Archive for November, 2011

Segway PT as a mobility device receives top honour by US government

The US Office of the Secretary of Defence has just awarded the Spirit of Hope Award to the Segs4Vets organisation this year. Segs4Vets provides donated Segway Personal Transporters (PTs) to veterans of American wars overseas who have been seriously injured. Most are amputees or have sustained serious spinal or leg injuries.

As reported by DRAFT (Disabilities Rights Advocates For Technology):

“Every year, the Army, Navy, Marine Corps, Air Force, Coast Guard and the Office of the Secretary of Defense each nominate one individual or organisation who…..selflessly contributed an extraordinary amount of time, talent or resources to significantly enhance the quality of life of service members and their families serving around the world, and epitomize the values of Bob Hope.”

Visit the DRAFT website to see videos of interviews with recipients of donated Segway PTs to better understand how this mobility device has transformed their lives.

Last year, the Segway PT was declared a mobility device under regulations pertaining to the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), to ensure there was no doubt that disabled persons electing to use the Segway PTs have the same access rights as those in mobility scooters and electric wheelchairs.

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Philip Bendall on his Segway PT vs bad-ass GM Holden V8 utes at Big Boys Toys

There’s nothing quite as raw and powerful as an Aussie V8, and at Big Boys Toys 2011 two General Motors Holden Commodore Utes took on Philip Bendall and his fat-wheeled Segway PT out in the arena before a crowd of thousands.

James Urquart’s Wildcard Entertainment manages the only precision driving stunt team in New Zealand, and has two big, bad, fast and loud V8 Utes that really know how to smoke up a screaming storm on the tarmac.

The crowd roared as the Utes circled and first rounded up two beautiful girls modelling for Big Ben Pies, then a BMX bike, a stunt motorcycle, a Hasqvana ride-on mower, and then Phil on his PT amongst the clouds of blue smoke and noise. Some might say this all inspired by Ken Block (see the awesome YouTube – especially from 2:30 through 3:10) – and even if it was, Phil likes to brag he was much more daring than Block’s own Segway stunt rider!

Throughout the three day show MC Ray Bishop was riding a Segway x2 – ensuring Segway New Zealand enjoyed a high profile throughout the triumphant return of Big Boys Toys to the New Zealand events calendar. The Segway NZ stand attracted what one commentator called “the largest steady crowd” of the show, where visitors got to ride the Segway i2, x2 and x2 Golf models, as well as the SoloWheel.

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Our ‘Political Edition’ news post – Election 2011

Tomorrow is the General Election in New Zealand. With that in mind, here is a partial list of senior Members of Parliament that we know have enjoyed riding the Segway Personal Transporter (PT) in recent times. While we’re yet to get current Prime Minister John Key and National Party Leader gliding on one of our PTs, we’re sure he’ll be more graceful than George Bush.

  • Bill English (National Party) – current Deputy Prime Minister, Minister of Finance, and former leader of National Party
  • Judith Collins (National Party) – current Minister of Police
  • Wayne Mapp (National Party) – current Minister of Defence and Minister of Research, Science & Technology
  • John Carter (National Party) – current Minister of Local Government, Minister of Civil Defence, Minister for Senior Citizens
  • Helen Clarke (Labour Party) – Prime Minister of New Zealand 1999-2008
  • Winston Peters (New Zealand First party) – Leader of NZ First, former Deputy Prime Minister and  Treasurer, for Minister of Maori Affairs
  • Rodney Hide (Act Party) – former Leader of Act 2004-2011, former Minister of Local Government, former Associate Minister of Commerce and former Minister of Regulatory Reform
  • Sue Kedgley (Green Party) – Member of Parliament

Segway New Zealand has been tempting politicians onto Segway Personal Transporters (PTs) since late-2003. For example, here are two photos from 2003 of familiar political faces on a collision course from the political middle and the political right, respectively:

Segway New Zealand has an initiative underway to achieve a law change that creates a new category of vehicle for self-balancing, two-wheeled personal transporters (such as the Segway Personal Transporter) during the next term of government.

It is our view that the Segway PT is currently regulated under the Mobility Device definition. While this is both practical and appropriate for the time being, we believe New Zealand can do better by adopting the approaches used across the USA and in the more progressive European nations. Our desired outcome for a new legal definition and operation rules include:

  • that the Segway PT – and similar devices that are constructed to a suitably high quality – are regulated in a similar way to mobility devices, ensuring they can be used by everyone aged 12+ without the need of a drivers license (that is, just like a bicycle – which makes sense, as the Segway PT is easier to learn to ride, easier to ride, stops in a shorter distance, and doesn’t travel as fast as a bike)
  • that in addition to the freedom to use any Segway PT on footpaths (and along the sides of formed roads where footpaths are not present or accessible), that PTs can also be used in bicycle lanes, in those bus lanes in which bicycles can be used, on urban (50km/h) roads, and in all public spaces
  • in parks, reserves, on beaches, and on tracks, trails and open spaces on all Crown Lands including National Parks and all areas managed by Department of Conservation wherever pedestrians are permitted
  • that local government has limited powers to set restrictions on use in clearly specified or defined locations, for the purpose of ensuring public safety but only when real, specific risks have been identified and quantified
  • that the Segway PT and similar devices are considered the same as and are not regulated under rules for bicycles, electric bicycles, mopeds, or low-powered scooters and recreational devices
  • that the resulting category and rules encourages use by persons living with mobility impairment and/or other disabilities, urban commuters, tourism, police and security, mail and deliveries, and other personal and business productivity roles.

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This weekend in Auckland is the annual Santa Parade down Queen Street. This year five Segway Personal Transporters are being deployed in public safety and event management roles by organisers, including one being used by Auckland Transport.

 

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Our BIGGEST Big Boys Toys site ever!

We’ve got out BIGGEST Big Boys Toys site ever!

So be sure to visit us at Auckland’s ASB Show Grounds during Day 2 today. We launched the Segway Personal Transporter into New Zealand (and the Southern Hemisphere) exactly 8 years ago at Big Boys Toys 2003 in a tiny 2m x5m site – look how we’ve grown!

 

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Big Boys Toys this weekend!

Big Boys Toys opens this Friday, and Segway New Zealand will be there with the entire Personal Transporter (PT) range – plus a surprise or two – including the first public showing of the SoloWheel.

Yes – our Segway Girls will show you how to ride every Segway PT. And the SoloWheel too – so be sure to come see us.

Big Boys Toys is the Mecca for all things awesome, and you can buy tickets online or at the gate. Show hours are:

  • Friday 18 November: 10am – 9pm
  • Saturday 19 November: 10am – 6pm
  • Sunday 20 November: 10am – 6pm

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Segway PT owners in their 80’s / Grey Lynn Park Festival

The Segway Personal Transporter (PT) can be safely operated by adults of almost any age.

Today sees a delightful storyin a UK paper about an 82 year old owner of a Segway x2 mode from Stropshirel. The Rev Davies, a former vicar of Hanmer, says: “It’s a bit like riding a bike, except you learn how to ride a segway in about five minutes. The machine does it all for you and you learn to trust it.”

Here in New Zealand, we’ve had owners in their 80’s riding Segway PTs since 2004. These people have gone on record in our Case Studies with comments such as “I don’t want to be in one of those sit-down mobility scooters – those things are for old people.”

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Auckland’s famous Grey Lynn Park Festival is on this weekend. Once again, organiser Hans Heumann has hired two Segway PTs for event management. He uses one during the set up days prior to the event, and two on show day. With ease, he can ride the Segway PT and bend down every few meters spray the grass with an aerosol paint can to mark out the locations for exhibitors to assemble their stands. He says the Segway PT not only cuts the set-up time from 3 days to 2 days, but that as the years go by he would no longer be able to do the job on foot in any case. For the Grey Lynn Park Festival and many other shows, in just a few years the Segway PT has become an essential tool for Event Management.

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“A bit like a Segway”

Journalists love to use the phrase “a bit like a Segway” in stories, as they scramble for ways to describe a wide variety of new devices or proposed designs. Yet, usually, the object is not really “like” a Segway Personal Transporter (PT) at all.

For example, take this “Segway for the air” story that appeared online this week, about the E-volo, world’s first electric mutlicopter. This device balances and hovers in the air automatically and – like the Martin Jetpack – is controlled by a simple “fly by wire” joystick while computers, gyroscopes and other sensors do the heavy lifting control. The first link includes a video of the first flight, and this one includes some alternative design illustrations.

The E-volo is a fascinating design, and perhaps the natural extension of the Parot AR Drone. But with the pilot sitting atop 16 spinning blades, it could all end rather badly…. That said, like the Segway PT it has redundancy built in, and can continue to operate safely even if up to 4 motors and blades should fail. In Engineering, the term “redundancy” means duplication of capability to increase reliability, so that in the event of a failure of one resource the “spare” resource ensures continued normal operation.

Readers of Segway New Zealand News archives can find our coverage of other self-balancing devices, including the SoloWheel, the YikeBike, a one-wheeled motorcycle, and the telepresence Anybot.

Destined to be popular with dictatorships and police states in the future is the “Sort of Segway-Roomba-Pilates Surveillance Ball“. The Rotundus “Groundbot” manages to be both cool and creepy at the same time!

At 60cm diameter, the Groundbot is larger than it appears in the video in the link above. It weights 25kg, cruises across seal, sand, snow, mud and….because of its low density….it even floats!

Many universities and research labs are experimenting with self-balancing machines. For example, the Coordinated Robotics Lab at the University of California San Diego has built the iFling, aradio-controlled robot described as a “self-righting little Segway-like vehicle” designed to pickup and throw ping-pong balls. The video shows just how incredibly agile this device is, and how cleverly the design has been refined over three iterations.

Here in New Zealand, Auckland University purchased two Segway PTs in 2005. One of these is regularly dismantled and reassembled by Mechanical Engineering students as part of their degree. The platform has been made self-balancing and capable of remote control, and these enterprising young minds have also been known to fit it with a “frickin laser beam.”

Researchers and businesses looking to build their own applications that utilise a self-balancing platform can use a Segway RMP Robot Mobility Platform. The Segway RMP range offers a family of statically and dynamically balanced platforms that offer powerful, robust solutions with exceptional range and capabilities.

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