“…jet-powered Segway PTs racing around the rugby field…”

“It looked like there were six jet-powered Segway PTs racing around the rugby field” recalls David Williams, who was at the final All Blacks vs Lions Rugby World Cup match at Eden Park, Auckland in 2005. It was David’s event production business that conceived this spectacular pre-match show that pitched three All Blacks PTs against three Lions PTs – with every machine packed with pyrotechnics – choreographed to a live 40-person choir and music that included The Imperial March from Star Wars.

Tonight at Eden Park, watch for an explosive “Segway Surprise” as part of the season-opening Blues vs Crusaders match. Tune in for 7:20pm and again at 9:30pm…..


Peter Garrett gets around without burning Midnight Oil

Australian politician Peter Garrett – best known in other countries as lead singer of eco-conscious rock band Midnight Oil – performed the opening ceremony of a new learning centre by taking the Segway Tour at the Hunter Wetlands Centre. The Newcastle Herald reported him saying “This project is a wonderful example of how local organisations can come together to give all students the opportunity to have an excellent, hands-on learning experience at this beautiful wetland location.”

Hunter Wetlands already attracts more than 100,000 visitors a year, and the new Segway eco-tour is expected to become a key attraction. It will certainly help Australians understand just how low the environmental footprint of the near-silent, zero-emission Segway Personal Transporter really is. The large, wide, low-pressure tyres of the Segway x2 model have a much lighter impact per square centimeter on the forest floor than shoes, boots, or vehicles (such as mountain bikes, motorcycles, mobility scooters and power chairs).

Just how light is well-illustrated by this series of photos that compare the impact on a beach of a Segway x2 with cross-terrain tyres, a person walking and a person running. Next to the depth of the depression into the sand caused by footsteps, the Segway x2 makes barely an impression down below the surface.

And the x2 Golf model with Turf tyres has an even wider distributed load. Which is why golf courses around New Zealand permit them to be used on the fairway on even the wettest days (when carts and even hand-pulled trundlers are banned). Both tyre types can be seen in the photo below – Peter Garrett is the tall man on the x2 Turf, while the tour leader is in front on a x2 with standard cross-terrain tyres.

Meanwhile, over on Australia’s Gold Coast two solar-power Segway Tours are proving very popular in the lush rainforest of Lamington National Park. Brett Walton (owner of Segway of Queensland) was the brainchild behind daily tours that have been operating out of O’Reilly’s Rainforest Retreat for the last two years, where tourists gently glide through ancient rainforests, an old dairy farm and a eucalypt forest with spectacular views of Morans Falls and the Great Dividing Range. Currumbin Wildlife Sanctuary offers Segway Safari Tours through the new Animal Hospital, followed by a journey along a bush track to take in the sights and animals such as koalas, kangaroos, crocodiles and birds.

Really green Segway PTs – on and off the green…and off the grid!

When a medical condition prevented a 40-something electrician from Tauranga from walking a full round of his beloved recreation of golf, he chose to the Segway Personal Transporter (PT) to get back on the fairway. He purchased the newly-released Segway GT (“Golf Transporter”) model in 2005, and life has been better in every way since. Not only has his game improved, but he’s discovered his PT is useful across every area of his life.

The Segway GT carries him around the Tauranga Golf Club – enabling him to keep up with his friends who can still walk, and remain a fully integrated part of the social group (something a golf cart disrupts). In is business life, he also uses the GT to get around the large industrial sites at which he contracts his services. It takes only about 10 seconds to remove the golf bag cradle from the GT model.

When it comes to recharging his Segway PT at his home nestled in bushland at the city boundary, power comes from large solar panels installed next to his house. While the regular electricity utility supply has normal urban reliability, this Segway PT owner likes the idea of being independent from the grid. Two photovoltic arrays on poles (one of which can be seen in the photo above) provide electricity to the household, while a radiator heats the domestic water.

The Segway PT is incredibly energy efficient – it costs only about 25 cents to charge it’s pair of Lithium batteries – that’s a commuting cost of less than 1 cent per kilometer. With a weight of less than 50kg (1/30th of the weight of a typical 1,500kg car), coupled with regenerative braking, the Segway PT is about the greenest and most efficient of the practical methods of personal transportation that suit a wide range of individuals.

And if Kiwi Segway PT owners want to recharge their PTs with the tiniest greenhouse footprint possible without installing solar panels, they can use a time clock at the power socket to ensure recharging occurs only at night time – when 100% of our power comes from renewable sources (primarily hydro-electric power, augmented with a little wind and geothermal).

India to assemble PTs; NY Times reviews YikeBike; Anybots roll out

Indian newspapers are reporting today that Segway, Inc. will open an assembly plant in Gurgaon, near Delhi, and this will result in a 20% reduction in retail price. Bird Group – the official importer – says assembling locally will result in reduced import duty, and the Segway PT will get VAT (sales tax) exemption and other benefits given to zero-emission vehicles. The company reports that “We have huge inquiries and orders for this personal transportation segment from airports, golf courses & resorts, police patrolling, large industrial and educational campuses.”

In other self-balancing machine news, pioneering company “Anybots Releases Segway-style Telepresence Robot” today. UPDATE 10 Feb 2011: Someone in Mountain View, Californian just sent their Anybot out down the street to the local coffee shop to fetch coffee – the future is here!

Another telepresence company – Vgo –  is also about to launch a similar product, however this implimentation does not feature a self-balancing platform.

New York Times technology writer David Pogue rides and reviews the YikeBike in his article The Commuter Bike Redesigned and Electrified. Pogue says he had a “Segway moment” during his time with Kiwi inventor Grant Ryan, who’s company builds and exports the YikeBike from in its factory in Christchurch, New Zealand. You can read about Segway NZ’s first ride on a Yike Bike in August 2010 in our News article Philip Bendall walks REX Exoskeleton, rides YikeBike.

Meanwhile, an article at Ars-Technical about the ability of chimps to make inferences about other chimps notes in passing their Segway-riding capability…..

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