Archive for June, 2012

See Segway PTs at MOTAT these school holidays

See and interact with characters on Segway Personal Transporters (PTs) at the Museum of Transport and Technology (MOTAT) in Auckland these school holidays (30 June – 15 July 2012).

Every holidays MOTAT puts on a different themed Holiday Experience for visitors, and these holidays its time to get energised with “ON.”

Exciting new activities and exhibits are themed so kids can learn about different types of energy while still having fun!

Get hands on with a range of interactive activities, like our make and take activity where you can construct your very own windmill. Kids and adults alike will love exploring our Power Station, which explains the types of energy we use here in New Zealand and how they are created. Or you can set off around the museum on our competition trail where you will need to work as a team to solve the mystery word.

Plus, the Fonterra Science Roadshow will be here with over 70 hands-on exhibits! This national science and technology education programme is a hit with the kids, igniting new ideas and reinforcing what they are learning in school. Every hour on the hour the Fonterra Science Roadshow will also be demonstrating one of three brand new live science shows!

So keep the whole family entertained these school holidays with a day out at MOTAT’s “ON”.

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Segway New Zealand continues its long association with MOTAT by providing two Segway PTs for staff dressed as themed characters to use as part of ON.

Previously, Segway PTs were part of “Robospeak” – a Holiday Experience from several years ago. And in 2007 Philip Bendall donated an original, first generation Segway i167 to MOTAT’s vehicle collection. This particular machine was one of the first pair of Segway PTs that Philip privately imported into New Zealand in 2003, and one of the first few hundred machines to role off the production line at Segway, Inc.’s factory.

The first two Segway Personal Transporter models launched in 2002 – the i167 and the e167. MOTAT has an i167 in its collection that was donated by Philip Bendall.

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Joseph and the amazing technicolour….Segway!

UPDATED 3 July 2012

On Saturday night (23 June) the National Youth Theatre Company took to the stage for their Gala Night performance of Joseph and the Amazing Technicolour Dream Coat.

In addition to almost 100 talented young performers, a Segway Personal Transporter (PT) was one of the stars of a hi-tech modern performance of this popular musical.

The gala was the NYCT’s final performance of Andrew Lloyd Webber & Tim Rices’ second hit musical at the Aotea Centre – Auckland’s premier theatre. The theatre has just benefited from an acoustics upgrade that critics have hailed as a “transformation“.

NYTC director James Doy approached Segway New Zealand to donate the use of a Segway PT for use as a “golden chariot” during the final scene. A e167 model was duly adorned with gold coloured trimmings to glide onto the stage each evening.

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World Cup of Segway Polo in Stockhom 2012 – the Woz Challenge Cup

Earlier this month 14 teams from 9 nations competed in the World Cup of Segway Polo, playing off against each other to win the Woz Challenge Cup.

Banner from Segway Stockholm’s Segway Polo 2012 Facebook page

The cup was first played for in Auckland, New Zealand in February 2006 between US team Silicon Valley Aftershocks and the local Pole Blacks. Segway Polo is the first new sport of the 21st century to be competed internationally, and is regulated by the International Segway Polo Association. The game has grown rapidly over the past 7 years, and already the World Cup of Segway Polo has been help in New Zealand, USA, Germany, Barbados, and Sweden. The location for the 2013 challenge has not yet been announced.

According to the sport’s Wikipedia entry, results for the 2012 challenge were:

The Balver Mammuts won over The Blade Pirates in the final with 2-0. The Stockholm Saints, Sweden beat the Austrian team Vineyard Devils with 4-0 for the bronze match. The goal zone rule was introduced in Woz Cup for the first time. The games were held during June 6–10 at Östermalms IP and Zinkensdamm in central Stockholm. Moving from one arena to the other after group play, the caravan of Segways was 102 Segways through central Stockholm. Finland and Lebanon were among the new national teams joining for the first time.

The sport is growing particularly quickly in Europe, with the first annual European Segway Polo Championship held in 2010. The next will be played in Germany in October, 2012.

Search “polo” in our archives to find previous entries about this sport and its famous international players, including Steve ‘Woz’ Wozniak (co-founder of Apple) and Victor Miller (writer of Friday 13th, winner of 3 Emmy Awards and 4 Writers Guild of America awards for television writing).

Play a friendly game in Auckland, New Zealand with your friends or workmates with our Segway Corporate Polo activity

To play Segway Polo for fun with other Segway PT owners in New Zealand, visit this webpage on our website.

To play Segway Corporate Polo as a workplace group activity, click here to find out more about this and other entertainment events.

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ASB bank launches new smartphone app with Segway PTs in Auckland, Wellington and Christchurch

ASB promotion in action along Auckland’s waterfront on a crisp, clear winter’s morning

“Make sure you keep an eye out for our ASB Mobile team over the next few days. Have a chat to one of the team and you could be lucky enough to walk away with some prize money courtesy of the awesome new ASB Mobile payment features!”  says ASB’s FaceBook page.

ASB have launched the new version of their smartphone app with a nationwide promotion that features Segway Personal Transporters (PTs) out on the streets of Auckland, Wellington and Christchurch.

This initiative proved spectacularly successful from day one, with Twitter and FaceBook alive with responses from the public who received prizes simply by interacting with the Brand Ambassadors.

The easy way to send money to anyone, anywhere, anytime.

Segway PTs are a proven way to promote your message, raise awareness, increase the number of Brand Ambassador-to-public interactions per hour, and to leave a lasting high-tech impression in peoples’ minds. SynergyBE have provided Brand Ambassadors while Segway New Zealand (Auckland), Body Electric (Wellington) and Urban Wheels (Christchurch) have provided the Segway PTs.

ASB promotion is underway in Segway-friendly Christchurch

Brand Ambassadors on Segway PTs instantly capture the attention of the public. Because the Segway PT is a safe, silent stable platform it is easy for the Brand Ambassador to engage and converse, then demonstrate a product or service – indoors or outdoors, from Northland to The Bluff.

ASB promotion in Auckland (Old Post Office Building/Britomart Transport Hub); in Wellington (The Beehive/Parliament Buildings in background); in Auckland (Queen Street at dusk)

 

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Segway Batteries – advanced technology developed together with Valance Technology [updated]

Segway i2 and x2 models feature advanced Lithium ion battery packs as an integral component of their extraordinary performance – long range-per-charge, many years of excellent day-to-day use, and usability across a wide temperature variation.

Segway, Inc. is a world leader in the field of battery energy management in the context of electric vehicles. Regenerative braking is key to the range-per-charge that can be achieved by a Segway Personal Transporter (PT) – up to 38km from an i2 and more than 20km from an x2 (under ideal conditions). When a rider de-accelerates or coasts down a hill, the electric motors act as generators and recharge the batteries. Not all energy is recovered, of course  – some is dissipated as heat through losses (air resistance, friction in the gearboxes, heat generated in the electronics and motors, etc). As an example, Segway engineers have commented that about one third of the energy taken to climb a hill is recovered going down the other side. Maximum regeneration occurs at “medium” speeds, because at lower speeds the fixed losses cancel out regeneration, and at higher speeds air resistance becomes increasingly significant (because doubling the speed increases resistance by a factor of four times). Segway’s experience in this field contributed to Team Segway Racing MotoCyzsz’s historic victory at the Isle of Man TT Zero this week.

The Segway PT combines hardware and software in an unique way. The three key elements – motors, microprocessor controllers and batteries – are in constant communication with each other under software control, managing the flow of energy between the propulsion sub-system (motors, etc) and batteries. What makes the system particularly complex is that the Segway PT has full “redundancy” – or at least two of every essential component. Each of these components is independent from the other. For example, each motor is double-wound (i.e. two separate sets of intertwined windings, or effectively two motors in one), there are twin identical controller boards running the same program simultaneously and checking up on each other hundreds of times per second, and there are two separate battery packs each containing their own intelligence that monitors a variety of internal parameters (including temperature). There are also more gyroscopes on board than are necessary.

What this complete set of redundant systems means is that the Segway PT can remain upright and safely in balance even if one component – or even one of every component – were to fail at exactly the same time (i.e. one set of windings, a controller board, gyroscope and a battery). Over the years Segway, Inc. has developed more experience in this field than any other vehicle company. For example, while Toyota deals with regeneration of Nickel batteries (not Lithium) in this Prius range of cars, there are no redundant systems adding complexity.

Segway, Inc. has contributed their expertise to the General Motors EN-V, to Segway Racing’s 1st and 2nd place winning debut at the Isle of Man TT Zero electric motorcycle race in 2011, and their 1st and 3rd place in 2012 (where both of their EV bikes became the first in history to break the 100 mph lap speed). Aside: Scotsman Bob McIntyre broke this record in 1957 on a conventional bike, and New Zealander John Britten achieved the world record for Fastest Top Speed at the TT with his hand-built Britten V1000 in 1993.

Valence Technology builds Segway Lithium battery packs using their patented ‘Saphion’ brand Lithium Phosphate chemistry. Saphion is a very safe, stable Lithium chemistry and construction.

Saphion was specifically developed to be safe when used in transportation devices and in other extreme conditions. These batteries are widely deployed across the Smiths Electric Vehicles commercial range, on boats and in other difficult environmental applications, and of course in Segway PTs.

One of the unique benefits of Saphion is protection from thermal runaway: should a battery catch fire it will be limited to one cell and then die away. In traditional Lithium battery packs fire quickly self-propagates from cell to cell resulting in a thermal event that rapidly increases in temperature and ferocity (“thermal runaway”). This makes it very difficult to quell. Here is a video showing what happens to a common rechargeable Lithium battery compared with a safe Saphion when both are set alight.

All types of Lithium batteries are considered Dangerous Goods on aircraft because a battery fire could quickly overwhelm the fire extinguishers built into the hold. Regulations do not discern between the various Lithium chemistries, despite the inherent safely of Saphion. This prevents Segway batteries from being taken on passenger aircraft. With the correct documentation and packaging they can be carried on cargo freighter planes.

Segway, Inc. accounts for about 20% of Valence’s annual sales. For more information on Valance and its products, here is an interesting summary about the company by a share market analyst.

Panel 1: (top) Segway p-133 NiMH battery, (middle and bottom) Segway i-167/170/180 battery. Panel 2: Segway Lithium battery. Panel 3: (top) inside Segway NiMH battery showing 60 cells, (bottom) inside Segway Lithium battery showing 92 cells.

The very earliest Segway PTs were fitted with Nickel Cadmium (NiCad) battery packs, although none of these i100 models were sold to the public (they were used within the company for testing purposes, and may be been trialled by a small number of corporations/institutions during 2002). When launched to selected corporate buyers in 2002 and then to the public in 2003 the i167 model was fitted with Nickel Metal hydride (NiMH) battery packs. Later in 2003 the smaller p133 model was also launched with NiMH battteries, as was 2004’s i170 model. When the i180 was launched in 2005 buyers could choose between NiMH and Lithium at time of purchase, and a software upgrade would enable the i167 and i170 models to use Lithium packs also. Later that same year, the Segway GT (golf transporter) and XT (cross-terrain transporter) models became available and shipped only with Lithium batteries so that these models would have useful range under their intended operating conditions. With the launch of the i2, x2 and x2 Golf models at the end of 2006 Lithium batteries became the only option.

Segway New Zealand’s experience with Segway battery packs has been that they are both reliable and durable. While few of the oldest NiMH batteries manufactured in 2002 and 2003 are still functional or offer any useful range, dozens of owners in 2012 are still using Segway PTs fitted with NiMH batteries manufactured between 2004 and 2006. These tend to be battery acks that have had light-to-moderate use over the years. All NiMH battery packs that had high personal use or were deployed in commercial roles were exhausted several years ago.

Segway Lithium batteries were a leading-edge technology in 2005, and since then we’ve noticed improvements in capacity (range-per-charge), reliability and lifespan as Valance’s manufacturing processes and the battery management software have improved. We estimate that about half of 2005-6 batteries (AB and AC battery software revision) had reached the end of their life by mid-2012. Most batteries from 2007 (AF software revision and later) are still performing surprisingly well – even those fitted to Segway PTs in commercial applications with well over 10,000km on the odometer.

Here are some New Zealand examples of the exceptional performance achieved with Segway Lithium battery packs. At Canterbury University two first-generation HT i180’s fitted with Lower Cargo Systems have been delivering mail since mid-2006, and their Lithium batteries (AB) only required replacing in 2011. Quite a number of Segway x2’s deployed in demanding security patrol roles around New Zealand have delivered useful work for more than 15,000km per pair of batteries. These are machines that travel 20 to 30 km every day, 365 days per year. On this basis, we expect many i2’s to deliver more than 20,000km useful life from a pair of batteries, though none we are aware of have yet reached this milestone on their odometers. One private owner in New Zealand estimates his i180 has travelled well in excess of 25,000 kilometres (this model does not have an odometer).

Here’s what Segway, Inc. says about Segway Batteries when deployed on the Segway Patroller models:

 

THE FACTS ABOUT A SEGWAY PATROLLER’S BATTERY RANGE

Segway® is the world’s leading provider of electric personal transportation. Our Segway Patroller is the world’s indisputable #1 personal transportation solution for police and security markets.

We are often asked, “What is the battery range of a Segway Patroller?” Consistently, the answer is completely satisfactory to customers, which is why we hold the market position we do. The Facts:

  • The Segway Patroller can travel up to 38 kilometres on a single charge, more than enough for public safety personnel patrolling a neighborhood, business district, university campus, shopping mall or corporate center.
  • The Segway Patroller has an on-board charger and patented battery technology that allows officers to charge it at anytime and anywhere there is a standard electrical outlet.
  • Officers can top-off the batteries or partially charge them to extend range whenever they are not riding, without any reduction in battery performance. Today’s electric three-wheel devices or golf carts must return to a fixed charging station, connect to a bulky off-board charger and fully charge the batteries or risk damaging them.
  • Segway Patrollers can remain in the field and extend their range with a common electrical power cord. For example, the Washington, DC Metropolitan Police Department recently reported that its fleet of 80 Segway Patrollers is used around the clock throughout the city. They point out that their Patrollers infrequently, if ever, fully deplete their battery charge.
  • In the rare event that an officer did need to significantly extend the Segway Patroller’s range, he/she could do so by swapping out batteries. This process can be completed in less than 5 minutes using a basic hex wrench. Using Segway cargo accessories, officers also have the option to carry light, compact and fully charged Segway batteries. If necessary, batteries can be swapped out in the field during a shift. This option is not available with the large batteries of today’s electric three-wheel devices or golf carts.
  • Segway is one of the world’s primary users of large format batteries. The Company was at the forefront of Lithium-ion battery development for personal transportation. We’re experts in smart battery management and the advanced sensing technology required to extend battery life and maximize energy efficiency. Please click here to download detailed information on Lithium-ion batteries.

In most circumstances, it is best practice to replace Segway battery packs in pairs because a Segway PT only performs as well as the weaker pack attached to it.

Segway Lithium batteries contain 92 cells, and NiMH batteries contain 60 cells (48 for p-Series) – see photo in Panel 3 higher up this page. Batteries are considered a ‘consumable’ and by their very nature will exhibit a fairly wide range of lifespans. Some last shorter than average, some longer. Sometimes, batteries will fail spontaneously before they are “worn out” (this is analogous to going out to start your car on a winter morning only to find the battery suddenly dead today, yet it was fine yesterday). Remember that all batteries slowly degrade chemically from the day they are manufactured, whether they are being used or not. Every battery needs to be replaced eventually.

Our feeling is that if you’re not wearing out your batteries, you’re not using your Segway PT enough – so get out there and enjoy your incredible machine!

[This article was first published in 2012 and was updated with additional information in 2014]

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History made today as Team Segway beats 100mph at TT Zero on Isle of Man [updated]

It is being hailed as one of the greatest events in the 105 year history of the world’s most famous motorcycle race – the Isle of Man TT (Tourist Trophy).

Earlier today Team Segway Racing MotorCzysz rider Michael Rutter set a 100+ mph lap record for an electric motorcycle at the TT Zero. The landmark lap also earned Rutter the £10,000 prize from the Isle of Man Government. This is only the fourth year of the TT Zero, while it took more than 60 years for the same milestone to be reached by a conventional bike (by Scotsman Bob McIntyre in 1957).

Not only did Team Segway MotoCzysz take first and third positions in the TT Zero, but Rutter achieved the highest speed during a heat (152 mph) and third-placed Mark Miller achieved highest speed during the race (132.6 mph). Rutter won the TT Zero in 2011 and Miller won the TT Zero in 2010. The three fastest entrants of the 10 electric motorbikes racing in damp conditions around the 37¾ mile Mountain course all broke the 100 mph barrier (and only 4 out of the 10 entrants finished the course on the day):

  1. Team Segway MotoCzysz – Michael Ruttter: 104.056 mph (lap time 21:45.33)
  2. Team Mugen Shinden (Honda) – John McGuinness: 102.215 mph (lap time 22:08.85)
  3. Team Segway MotoCzysz – Mark Miller: 101.065mph (lap time 22:23.970)

The official website reports a delighted Michael Czysz saying after the race:

“The greatest motorcycle riders and manufacturers in history are synonymous with the Isle of Man TT Races and I am so proud to be adding the name Segway Racing MotoCzysz to that list. What the team has achieved today is truly ground-breaking and is the culmination of years of hard work.”

The MotoCzysz bikes incorporate Segway’s world-leading experience with energy management in personal electric vehicles – the interplay between software, batteries and propulsion systems. When the TT Zero began in 2009 battery packs provided about 10 kWh of energy – today they are about 20 kWh. Because battery improvements benefit all bikes about equally, of prime importance is how power delivery and regeneration between these systems is controlled, and this is one of Segway, Inc.’s fields of expertise. Riders use their experience to balance speed against conserving power over the length of the course. Previous generation MotoCzysz electric race bikes were specifically designed with attention placed on items such as drive systems and suspension dynamics. These were  further refined this year, and other areas have been targeted with these all-new machines, as explained by MotoCzysz founder and CEO Michael Czysz:

“The design of the 2012 MotoCzysz E1pc focuses on overall vehicle and system efficiency, with aerodynamics being a high priority. By 2012 we were capable of building an eGrand Prix machine with sufficient torque and HP, handling and reliability, so what was next? We want more for longer.  Adding range is simple; you could add more batteries or you could do more with less!  Racing, the automotive industry and the world in general desperately need to recalibrate from using more, to using less more efficiently.  Nowhere is this more critical than when creating an electric machine.”

The new MotoCzysz E1pc weighs 238 kg, some 20 kg lighter than its main competitor (Mugen Shinden, for all intents and purposes an entry by Japanese behemoth Honda – the largest manufacturer of motorbikes in the world). The bike’s battery packs total 14kWh of stored energy, and the it can achieve 200+ peak horsepower. Asphalt and Rubber reports additional details about changes between this years and last years models:

Noticeably apparent on the 2012 MotoCzysz E1pc are the aerodynamic fins and ducts, which the team has developed through the use of Solidworks, and hopes will help make the Ep1c slip through the air on the Mountain Course with ease. Since wind resistance is a square-function in relation to velocity, a two-fold increase in speed results in a four-fold increase in wind resistance, and as such MotoCzysz has placed a high priority on aerodynamics for the 2012 season.

Making refinements to the 2011 design, MotoCzysz returns with its under-tank suspension design, which uses two shocks with forward and aft linkages to facilitate the front forks and swingarm suspension duties. Other improvements have been made to the bike’s electric drivetrain, which include increased efficiencies, more accessible packaging, and better mass-centralization.

“We’ve done a lot of what we call connectivities and interconnections…they are all small changes, and that’s what happens. Look at it this way: let’s say we do 100, 102, or 104 mph this year. It is going to be hard to add another 5 mph next year, and another 5 mph the year after that. It gets more difficult obviously, and it’s the same thing we’re talking about with these components. It was easy the first couple of years to make big adjustments, but there weren’t those big obvious ones to make this year, just lots of little ones.”

“Physically the battery pack is slightly bigger, but that’s because we have changed some dimensions for other dimensions. We don’t have air flowing through it this year, so we’ve had to make up that cross-sectional area. We’ve also done a much better job of cooling our batteries, which has meant doing some thermal stuff inside the batteries.”

None of the competitors have had the opportunity to actually test their 2012 zero-emission motorcycles on the course at Isle of Man prior to practice and qualifying rounds. Michael Czysz says that this is proved a challenge, because it gave them only two passes through the Mountain Course in which to set up each bike to each rider’s specifications. This includes changes to the upgraded systems dashboard, which displays data such as speed in relation to the course and other essential information about what is occurring inside the systems of the motorcycle so the rider can make decisions to maximise performance over the length of the course.

“We’re communicating to the riders very simple, clean, and efficient strategies on what they can do with the bike — and that’s on-the-fly as they go,” said Czysz. “This is really one of our secret sauces this year.”

The Mountain Course is perhaps the most challenging course on the Isle of Man TT races, according to Examiner.com, who write:

The Isle of Man TT Mountain Course is one of the toughest racing circuits in the world.  It winds its way around the Isle of Man, on regular roads on the island, for a distance of 37.5 miles, and crosses Mount Douglas reaching an altitude over 1400 feet.  The TT Week has over 100 years of history inmotorcycle racing, and it is a select group of riders who are qualified to race on the Mountain Course.  The gas bikes race for two laps, but the electric bikes (TT ZERO) race for only one lap.  That’s the limitations of battery energy density, and it will require a breakthrough in energy density before the electric bikes will be able to go for a full two laps.  They’ll get there, in time.

The TT ZERO results serve as one of the benchmarks measuring improvements in electric motorcycle technology.  This, and other electric motorcycle races like the TTXGP, give electric motorcycle developers an excellent R&D opportunity to push the technology forward.  In 2009, Rob Barber (riding for Agni Motors) won with a 87.434 miles/hr lap speed. In 2010, Mark Miller (riding for MotoCzysz) won with a 96.820 miles/hr lap speed. In 2011, Mike Rutter (riding for MotoCzysz) won with a 99.604 miles/hr lap speed, and this year he won with a 104.056 lap speed.

Segway New Zealand’s site at SpeedShow 2012 (21-22 July) will feature a special display about Segway’s success at the TT Zero.

Michael Rutter wins the TT Zero 2012 on his Team Segway Racing MotoCzyz electric motorcycle

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SEGWAY number plate and a Segway Scream (Edvard Munch)

Philip Bendall has owned the SEGWAY number plate in New Zealand since 2004. He wasn’t the first to register it, however. In 2003 an enterprising individual was quick off the mark, buying the rights to this personalised plate and knowing full well that sooner or later someone else would really want it. He was right!

Our Segway number plate with new surround

Last week we posted the latest in a series of images where the Segway PT is depicted in pop-culture. Here is another, based on Edvard Munch’s painting The Scream. There are four original versions of this painting, created between 1893 and 1910. On 4 May 2010, one of these sold for US$120 million, setting a new record for the amount paid for a single painting.

“Segway Scream” (yours for somewhat less than $200 million)

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