MORGO 2011: Sam Morgan, Rod Drury, Grant Ryan ride Philip Bendall’s SoloWheel

More than 100 of New Zealand’s top technology entrepreneurs attending MORGO this week were first to see SoloWheel – the self-balancing, one-wheeled personal transporter.

Sam Morgan (Trade-Me founder, Jasmin Social Investments), Rod Drury (Xero, and player in the Pole Blacks – NZ’s Segway Polo team), and Grant Ryan (YikeBike) were amongst the first in the world to ride the SoloWheel. Last week, Segway New Zealand’s Philip Bendall imported the 14th SoloWheel to roll off the production line, a month or more before retail sales are set to start. MORGO has a long history of revealing technological advances, including Kiwi inventions the Martin Jet Pack, Rex Exoskeleton and the Yike Bike.

Rod Drury, Grant Ryan and Lillian Grace learn to ride the SoloWheel

Like the Segway Personal Transporter (PT), the SoloWheel incorporates self-balancing capability – albeit only in the fore-aft plane. Like a bicycle, forwards (or backwards) movement is required to maintain sideways balance. It is the dynamic stability of the Segway PT that makes it the best – and often only truly practical – choice for many applications:

  • safe, convenient personal mobility for those with impairment
  • agile and responsive transportation for security guards and Police officers
  • deliveries on campus, around urban and suburban environments, and in warehouses
  • inspection and other productivity applications

Because the Segway PT is so easy to learn to operate, it is also suitable for novice riders to use for Segway Tours after just a few minutes tuition.

The SoloWheel offers convenient transportation for a narrower range of users than the Segway PT. At just 11kg it can easily be carried on public transport and into buildings. With a top speed of 16km/h, it can provide a simple “last mile” commuting solution. If you’d like to be among the very first in the world to have your own SoloWheel call us today on 0800 2 SEGWAY or Contact Us.

Spidercam buys a Segway x2 in NZ at the Rugby World Cup 2011

As the New Zealand and French rugby teams prepare for their final showdown, battling it out to win the 2011 Rugby World Cup, the Spidercam crew purchased a Segway x2 from Segway New Zealand.

Having watched first-hand as UniRig staff travelled rapidly around Eden Park on a Segway i2 rented from Segway NZ as they assisted with the erection of this high-tech camera’s supporting towers and equipment, Spidercam staff recognised how much more productive they would be if they had their own Segway Personal Transporter (PT).

They chose the Segway x2 for its comfortable ride, incredible grip and – well – it’s kick-arse style! The Segway x2 means business, and when push comes to shove – it does the business. Time is money, and no other transportation device comes close to matching the convenience, performance and capabilities of the Segway PT in productivity roles like this.

Spidercam have operated in dozens of arenas around the world, but it was here in New Zealand that they saw the benefits of using Segway PTs for personal productivity. New Zealand businesses have been early, enthusiastic adopters of Segway PTs to improve their bottom lines (take a look back through our recent News entries for features on the wide variety of Kiwi businesses who utilise Segway PTs).

Television viewers of the 2011 Rugby World Cup have been mesmerised by footage shot by Spidercam. The NZ Herald was particularly impressed. Wikipedia describes it as follows:

The Spidercam is a system which enables film and television cameras to move both vertically and horizontally over a predetermined area, typically the playing field of a sporting event such as a cricket pitch, football field or a tennis court.

The Spidercam operates with four motorized winches positioned at each corner at the base of the covered area, each of which controls a Kevlarcable connected to a gyro-stabilized camera-carrier, or dolly. By controlling the winding and unwinding of the cables, the system allows the dolly to reach any position in the three dimensional space. The inputs of the Spidercam “pilot” are processed by software which forwards the commands to the winches via fiber optic cables. Two of the Kevlar cables also have fiber optic cables woven into them to carry commands to the camera and the remote head, and bring the camera’s high definition signal back to the control station. The remote head, which houses the camera, provides pan and tilt movement and includes the lens remote which controls focus, zoom and irising. A gyro sensor in the dolly stabilises the horizon. A specially trained Spidercam camera operator controls the camera.

Spidercam marks the fourth business to directly use Segway PTs at official Rugby World Cup activities, joining UniRig, Auckland Transport and Party Central at Queens Wharf.

Meanwhile, Heart of the City/Auckland City Council with their “City Ambassadors” have been out in force in downtown Auckland on their two highly visibly Segway i2 Patrollers, handing out city maps and assisting the public to find their way. Magic Broomstick Tours have been busy taking tourists on Segway Tour of Devonport, and Sals Pizza and California Burrito have been delivering fast food to hungry visitors and residents around the CBD. All together, there have been more than a twenty Segway PTs hard at work helping make the Rugby World Cup a better, safer, and friendlier event.

Auckland’s California Burrito store / Segway NZ customised PT toolkit

When inventor Dean Kamen revealed the first Segway Personal Transporters (PTs) to the world almost a decade ago, one of the many economic benefits predicted for this technology was vastly improved efficiency for people travelling distances of a few hundred meters up to a few kilometers. Examples given in 2002 included mail delivery and meter reading, and New Zealand was to become one of the first places to deploy Segway PTs in these areas, after the US.

Today, a division of NZ Post (Datamail/Converga at Auckland Hospital) and the University of Canterbury have been benefiting from tripled efficiency of mail delivery by using PTs for years (read about it in Case Study: Mail Delivery at Auckland Hospital & Canterbury University). Our next case study will be about a contract meter reader in the South Island that triples the number of meters read per day, all at reduced cost compared with the previous walk-drive combination. These are but two of many dozens of Segway PT deployments by Kiwi businesses.

A highly visible example is fast food delivery. To date, Segway PTs are being used at four locations around Auckland city. The newest is California Burrito located in Commerce Street in the Auckland CBD. They began delivering hot food on a Segway PT in August 2011. Demand for deliveries is increasing by the day, and they are planning to add a second PT next month. This is the same response that Sal’s Pizza discovered when they pioneered pizza delivery on PTs in 2009. Today they operate five Segway PTs spread across their City, K’Rd and Takapuna stores (see our two previous posts about this business here and here).

What each of these innovative Kiwi businesses have shown is that the Segway PT offers a better, lower-cost solution than bicycles, motorbikes or cars when it comes to fast food delivery in high density areas. The lower the cost, the greater the economic benefit – and the higher the standard of living that Kiwis get to enjoy. The Segway PT is 11 times more efficient than the average car, and faces none of the issues and dangers that road traffic faces – especially during busy times that coincide with rush hour.

California Burrito have branded their Segway i2 using discs on the wheels. Self-adhesive labels affixed to the inner side of a disc of perspex attached to each wheel – providing eye-catching identification.

In addition to the standard tools that come with every Segway PT, Segway New Zealand has provided a customised toolkit to California Burrito to ensure their staff can deal with the rare-but-inevitable case of a flat tyre. When delivery orders are backing up and customers are waiting for their hot food it is essential that downtime is minimised.

Firstly, the tyres are filled with Slime, a special liquid that is put into the tubes that instantly seals a typical puncture. As air begins to escape through a hole, this green, fibrous “goo” is drawn out, sets and clogs the hole up. It really works. In fact, commercial customers such as security guards and Segway Tour companies have been using Slime in their PTs throughout the country since 2005, and on this basis we can recommend it to every PT owner.

Secondly, California Burrito carry a spare wheel on hand at all times. If the Slime cannot seal the puncture, then the ‘flat’ wheel can be removed in 2 minutes, and the replacement fitted in another minute. The ‘flat’ can then be repaired the next day using the tube held on hand for this purpose.

Thirdly, Segway NZ has provided a customised toolkit to augment the standard set of tools that comes with every Segway PT. For California Burrito we supplied the following items in a tough toolkit box:

  • ONE bottle of Slime (450ml) – sufficient for two tyres
  • ONE replacement i2 tube
  • ONE tyre valve removal tool
  • ONE 13mm socket and ratchet drive – to remove the wheel from the hub
  • ONE Phillips screwdriver – to remove the wheel discs
  • ONE double-barrelled foot pump – to check pressure and to inflate the tyre (highly recommended over a single-barrelled pump or bicycle pump)
  • THREE replacement 13mm wheel nuts – in case the originals become burred
  • FOUR replacement screws for the wheel discs- in case the originals become burred
  • FOUR replacement fasteners – for the Segway Battery Packs – in case of loss, damage or corrosion
  • ONE 4mm Allen key wrench
  • COPY of Segway PT Preventative Maintenance Guide
  • ONE toolkit box with hinged lid and carry handle, with room to hold all of the above items as well as the Segway Reference Manual and Safety DVD

Every one of these items has been selected on proven quality, based on Segway New Zealand’s own experience with these tools since 2003. The cost this particular kit is $195+GST, and replacement stock for all consumable items is available direct from Segway New Zealand. We can provision a customised Toolkit tailored to the needs of every commercial customer, depending on the selection of standard and special accessories attached to their Segway PTs.

Winter Maintenance Tips & Preventative Maintenance Guide

Segway, Inc. has released Segway Winter Maintenance Tips (.pdf) as the northern hemisphere winter approaches. While all of these tips are set out in the Reference Manual, you can print out this handy one page tips sheet and affix it to the wall next to where you store your Segway PT to use as a check-list.

It is divided into “Winter Storage” and “Winter Usage/Spring Prep” sections. Winter Storage is relevant to owners who do not use their PT for several months during winter (more common in northern USA and Europe than here in New Zealand), or those who are going away on an extended holiday at any time of year.

Winter Usage/Spring Prep contains valuable tips for safe winter enjoyment of your Segway PT. Winter conditions are often more slippery than at other times, so be sure to check how much tyre tread is present.

You can find helpful comparative photographs of new and worn tyre treads that indicates when i2 and x2 tyres should be replaced in the Segway PT Preventative Maintenance Guide for i2, x2 and x2 Turf/Golf models (it will also be of interest to owners of previous models).

The Preventative Maintenance Guide also sets out pre-ride, weekly, monthly, quarterly, half-yearly and yearly checks that all owners should conduct. We recommend this checklist be incorporated as part of every commercial users Health & Safety Program. If you would like further explanation or help, simply call 0800 2 SEGWAY for advice. You can also bring your Segway PT to our Auckland Service Centre or we can come to you to conduct regular maintenance. With the exception of Elastomers, most owners can easily conduct all of these checks themselves.

Philip Bendall conducts an annual trip all around New Zealand every February/March and can make a personal visit to inspect, maintain and repair your Segway PT. He also makes more regular visits throughout the upper North Island and to all main centres, and call-out visits to anywhere on request.

See our Accessories page to purchase replacement standard tyres for i2 and x2. The i2 tyres are also the official replacement for the now discontinued tubeless tyres originally fitted to i167/i170/i180/GT models (an i2 tube is also required). Tyres for the x2 are identical to those fitted to the previous XT model.

We also sell the IRC Snow Tyre for i2 and 167/i170/i180/GT. This tyre is a high-traction alternative to the i2 standard tyre, and has proven popular with Guided Tour operators around New Zealand. It is also the most cost-effective option for most hire-mileage Security deployments and for outdoors-only delivery applications. Owners of i2’s who commute in snowy or icy conditions like to fit them for winter use, as do those looking to adventure further off-road than standard tyres can take them. These IRC Snow Tyres offer incredible grip, a ride that is almost as smooth and quiet as a standard i2 tyre, and they wear up to 3 times longer. They do carry in more dirt and mud from outdoors to indoors due to the tread, and they are made from standard rubber (not non-marking rubber like the standard i2 tyres).

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