Self-balancing for mobility, productivity and fun (even on snow and ice)

When controversial broadcaster Paul Henry interviewed Philip Bendall (Managing Director of Segway New Zealand Limited) last month on RadioLIVE he was initially disbelieving that a Segway Personal Transporter (PT) is a safe, stable self-balancing platform suitable for a variety of uses, including mobility. During the interview Paul Henry expressed particular opinions about the Segway PT, but admits that he’s never actually been on one himself.

Philip said “If you’re never been on a Segway PT before, stop for a moment and consider just what self-balancing means. It means you don’t need to do any balancing because the machine does it for you. Its that simple, and that is what makes the Segway PT a safe and stable platform for just about every person. If you go back to the original patents you’ll see the inventors understood this, and in tests discovered that for a person with Parkinsons Disease the platform not only takes over balancing for that rider, but also acts to reduce their tremors caused by the disease.”

To illustrate just how good the Segway PT is at self-balancing under even extreme conditions, here are four photos taken from video of standard Segway PTs being used on snow and ice. The first is an original first-generation Segway i167 model from 2002 with standard tyres racing through several inches of snow amongst trees. The two stacked photos show a Segway i2 model being used on ice – the rider is shown playing a bit of ice hockey, and using a snow shovel to move the loose snow on top of the ice. This i2 is fitted with an enhanced traction tyre that is popular in New Zealand with security companies, Segway tours and many private owners of PTs that offers a bit more grip compared with the non-marking indoor/outdoor stock tyres. The last photo shows a group of four Segway x2’s having fun in the snow outside a European resort.

The original videos from which these still images have been taken can be found on YouTube by searching for SEGWAY and SNOW and ICE.

One of the more recent disabled Kiwis to begin using a Segway PT for mobility purposes is Tony Bayard, who is also President of CanTeen Nelson (the charity for children with cancer).

He is a recent graduate of Nelson Marlborough Institute of Technology, and the Nelson Mail reports a Segway PT enabled him to participate fully in the main street graduation procession for his Bachelor of Information Technology degree in February 2012. He recently completed an internship at movie special effects company Weta Digital, and hopes to begin work full time there.

Tony has a rare hip condition that will require a double transplant this month in New Zealand, plus further treatment in Boston, USA later this year.

IN LINE: Nelson Marlborough Institute of Technology Bachelor of Information Technology recipient Tony Bayard (photo courtesy Patrick Hamilton - Fairfax NZ).

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