Archive for October, 2012

Australian Police to use Segway PTs says new Chief, while Dublin rolls out this week

Incoming Queensland Police commissioner plans to return officers to the beat on Segway Personal Transporters (PTs) and golf carts in a push by the new boss to create a highly mobile and hi-tech force, according to the Herald Sun.

…Mr Stewart said he was concerned police had cut themselves off from the public.

“As technology in vehicles changed, obviously the windows got wound up, the air conditioner goes on, the radio goes on,” he said.

“In some ways we’ve actually created a barrier between that interaction between the patrolling police and the public. Pushbikes, golf carts, Segways (two wheeled self-balancing motorised platforms) – all of that puts you back right in touch with the community.

“I know overseas there is a lot of work being done in terms of simply trying to get police back out on the beat.”

While Australian Police are yet to roll out their first machines, officers on Segway PTs have been a common site in most busy cities around the world for years. This week in Dublin, Ireland, Police began patrolling the city centre on a pair of Segway PTs donated by the Dublin City Business Association:

GARDAI are poised to segue into a new way of patrolling the ‘green’ streets of Dublin following a generous gift.

Officers are hoping for a smooth transition with the presentation to Assistant Garda Commissioner John Twomey today of two Segways, donated by the Dublin City Business Association (DCBA).

Although the vehicles will initially only be used in Dublin city centre, gardai have indicated they could be rolled out more widely if they prove to be a success.

Mr Twomey said he was happy to add the machines to his force’s arsenal.

“Segways add another arm to our portfolio in terms of dynamic and effective urban policing by maximising the areas we can monitor that are not typically accessible for other vehicles,” he said.

Police in USA were the first to begin patrolling on Segway PTs in 2002. This case study from Bridgeport notes some of the reasons they kind patrolling on Segway PTs to be so successful:

“In general, if a municipality is using community-based policing as their platform, the Segway PT is the tool,” says Norwood. “It allows cops to get out of their cars, be in touch with people and create dialog. It’s one of those tools that the cops say ‘Wow, I didn’t know you could use it that way.’ For us, it has been a big success.”

— Bryan Norwood – Police Chief, Bridgeport, Connecticut, USA

Segway released its first “Police/Security” version of the first generation Segway PT in 2005, and a similarly spec’d version of the second generation i2 and x2 models in 2006.

Over the next two years extensive research was conducted into developing a more specialised version especially for this sector, and the new i2 and x2 Patroller models were released in 2009. These models have reflective shields, flashing lights, storage and other features requested by officers who had been using Segway PTs in the field for many years.

Segway Patrollers have been adopted by security firms throughout New Zealand for patrolling large sites and at public events.

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Segway PT as TV camera dolly and television camera equipment transport

Geoffrey Andrew of Moving Media Limited has purchased a Segway Personal Transporter (PT) ‘x2’ model with balloon Turf tyres to transport himself, his television camera and tripod.

Geoff’s modified Segway x2 carries him, his television TV camera, tripod and gear

Moving Media produces commercials, documentaries and video presentations. Many jobs require Geoff or his staff to move themselves and heavy, expensive equipment significant distances during shoots that can run to long hours. A Segway Personal Transporter is the smart solution.

Starting with the Segway x2 Golf package, the tripod secures readily into the golf bag carrier cradle. Next, Geoff has built additional custom fittings to secure the camera and equipment bags.

Additionally, he has a customised SegVator electric power lift attached to the tow-bar of his Nissan Pathfinder that automatically raises/lowers and secures the Segway PT for effortless transportation as he drives from job to job around the country. Moving Media is based in Hamilton, New Zealand, but there isn’t anywhere they won’t go or can’t go. Now, more than ever!

In addition to transportation, Geoff sees the Segway PT as offering a less-expensive way to shoot certain scenes that would otherwise require the deployment of a dolly on rails. By offering a more cost-effective solution than competitors can offer, Moving Media has the opportunity to grow their business.

The versatile Segway x2 has many applications for both work and fun

Geoff is the second Kiwi to adopt the Segway PT for camera work on a regular basis in this country.

Hamish McIntyre purchased a Segway e167 model in 2004 that was developed into a hands-free camera dolly with help from the engineers at Wellington’s special effects business Weta Workshop. They constructed a custom seat/knee-grip fitting for this first-generation PT model. A number of other operators around the world have since implemented similar custom solutions, and there is at least one commercial business that sells modification kits.

Hamish’s Segway PT has been used on films such as Peter Jackson’s King Kong and Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King; on Kiwi film maker Andrew Adamson’s Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe; with the fitting of XT/x2 ATV tyres it got down and dirty in the mud during the very wet and cold filming of Vincent Ward’s River Queen in remote, rural Wanganui; on smaller local productions such as Taika (“Boy”) Waititi’s Eagle vs Shark and Out of the Blue (about the Aramoana massacre). Right now it is hard at work on the set of The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey.

Segway PTs have also been used for camera work at a number of sporting events in New Zealand, including Golf and motor racing such as the A1GP.

Spidercam purchased a Segway x2 from Segway NZ during the Rugby World Cup 2011.

A third Kiwi business has recently purchased a Segway PT for Steadicam work, and we’ll have more details to share about this coming weeks.

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‘IT guy’ at Auckland medical campus more productive on a Segway PT

Carlos loves his job as the IT expert at an Auckland medical campus. And he likes it even more when he’s zipping about getting things done faster on a brand new Segway Personal Transporter.

For the last couple of years health services provider Te Puna Hauora Te Raki Paewhenua have utilised a Segway i180 to boost productivity of various staff on their large site in Northcote, in Auckland’s North Shore (New Zealand). The facility is surrounded by Auckland University of Technology’s Akoranga campus.

Yesterday, Te Puna Hauora upgraded to a brand new Segway i2 model, featuring wireless ‘InfoKey’ controller, built-in immobilising alarm and long-range Lithium batteries (up to 35km per charge). During rider orientation Carlos remarked how intuitive the i2’s LeanSteer is to use compared to the ‘twist-grip’ turning control on the first-generation i180 model.

Primary Healthcare Organisations like Te Puna Hauora rely on an IT network of computers, printers and monitoring equipment, so responding rapidly to service issues is crucial to the well-being of patients and the productivity of the business. Only the Segway PT can carry a person rapidly from place to place, indoors and out, moving safely and quietly through busy pedestrian spaces, along corridors, through doorways – because the “footprint” of a person on a Segway PT is about the same as that of a someone walking along.

Te Puna Hauora is the second medical campus in New Zealand to deploy the Segway PT as a productivity tool. Auckland Hospital introduced it’s first Segway PT in 2008 and boosted mail delivery by 300%. One mail run used to take 1 hour and was completed just 3 times per day. On the Segway PT it takes just 20 minutes, and by completing 6 rounds per day quality of service is vastly improved. For example, doctors now receive essential documents up to 40 minutes earlier each morning, then twice as often per day. Labour costs have been reduced because the last mail round is completed half an hour earlier at the end of the day.

Canterbury University deployed a pair of Segway PTs for campus mail delivery in 2006, and has been benefiting from a similar increase in productivity ever since.

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Dean Kamen’s Stirling engine, the US cable TV industry and Coca Cola

Dean Kamen – inventor of the Segway Personal Transporter – has been working on commercialising a new, efficient design of the 200-year-old Sterling Cycle Engine for much of the last decade. CED Magazine covers the most recent developments:

The DEKA Sterling Engine

The Stirling engine…is in essence a heat engine, operating by cyclic compression. They have several drawbacks, including practical limitations to how big (in terms of energy output) they can be. Though Stirling engines have been successfully used, no Stirling engine has ever been successfully commercialized – not for long, anyways. In most circumstances, energy from Stirling engines will be far more expensive than energy from almost every other extant power generation system. Most circumstances, but not all.

Stirling engines are highly efficient generators and can be run not only with any energy source, but they can be run with different energy sources changed on the fly – kerosene, diesel, alcohol, it doesn’t matter, Kamen said, because it relies on external combustion.

A small, model Stirling Engine can be purchased at Jaycar throughout New Zealand for those who are fascinated by these devices. The link takes you to a page that also includes a video of the engine in operation.

A Sterling Engine – available from Jaycar throughout New Zealand

Jaycar describes it as follows: A Stirling engine is a machine that converts heat into mechanical energy by alternately compressing and expanding air. The expanding air acts on a piston to provide mechanical force: you simply heat up the air chamber, give the flywheel a whirl and away she goes. The only source of energy is heat and as long as heat is applied, the engine will keep running and running.

CED Magazine goes on to note how Dean Kamen’s Sterling Engine can run continuously without wearing out:

Kamen’s Stirling engines have no pistons, and therefore no seals. They act as brushless DC motors, with wires the only thing inserted in the cylinder chamber to draw off the electricity generated, he explained to a group of journalists after his keynote at Cable-Tec Expo.

His company Deka Research builds the engines on a custom basis today for about $250,000 but Kamen believes that with volume they could be made for about $10,000 each. So he has been searching for large-scale applications that exploit the advantages of the engine:

And that’s where the cable industry might – might – come in. Cable has to have backup power; the very biggest companies have literally thousands of generators (typically diesel engines), most of them sitting idle 90 percent of the time. What if those generators were replaced with Kamen’s 10 kW Stirling engines?

A cable operator could run the generator on whatever fuel was the cheapest available at the time. Furthermore, they don’t rely in any way upon the grid – they will be absolutely reliable in a power outage, as long as the fuel holds out – and remember, it can run on any fuel, even alcohol.

When backup was not required (i.e. most of the time) the engine could be run to feed electricity back into the national grid to help provide for peak-time loads.

Now about all that waste heat. Kamen has built a Stirling engine into a water purifier that requires heat to purify water. If he can get enough volume on Stirling engines to reap economies of scale, his water purifiers could end up becoming practical in Third World countries where pure water is at a premium and a variety of water-borne illnesses and diseases are endemic.

“Coca-Cola is interested in these,” Kamen noted. If Coca-Cola finds a practical way to distribute these machines in Third World countries, it could be directly responsible for reducing the occurrence of well over half of all diseases in the world. The soft drink manufacturer currently has an order in with Deka for 50 of the machines. “Coca Cola has the potential to be the largest health care provider in the world.”

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Segway NZ announces Extended Warranty for new and existing owners

Segway New Zealand is pleased to announce Extended Warranty options for new and existing owners of Segway Personal Transporters (PTs).  We’re letting you know the initial details today, with pricing and full terms to be published next week.

  1. All new Segway PTs come with a comprehensive 12 month warranty. From today, buyers of new Segway PTs have the option of extending coverage to 24 months at time of purchase.
  2. Owners of Segway PTs that are less than 12 months old can purchase a 12 month extension to their existing warranty, extending total coverage out to 24 months.
  3. Owners of Segway PTs that are more than 12 months and less than 3 years old can purchase a 12 month warranty.
  4. Buyers of pre-owned Segway PTs from Segway NZ that are less than 3 years old can purchase a 12 month warranty.

Like the Original Warranty, all Extended Warranties are fully factory-backed and are being offered in conjunction with Segway, Inc.

Warranty offers (2) and (3) are subject to satisfactory inspection of the Segway PT by Segway New Zealand to determine that the Segway PT is presently operating normally.

Extensions cover the Segway PT PowerBase only, and exclude batteries and wear parts (tyres, grips, mats, etc – as defined in the Reference Manual).

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Segway reveals new “ARTI” Robot Mobility Platform

ARTI is Segway’s latest Robotics Mobility Platform (RMP) prototype. Its name (an abbreviation of the word ‘articulate’) was derived from the platform’s articulated steering method. ARTI is based on the same core propulsion and interface hardware that is standard in the rest of the RMP line, but was further developed by Segway’s engineers to become a functional prototype with exceptional capabilities.

Meet “ARTI” – the new articulated Robot Mobility Platform

The ARTI platform utilizes a two degree of freedom joint to permit roll and yaw rotation. This flexibility enables the platform to traverse aggressive terrain while continually maintaining four points of contact with the ground. ARTI’s articulated steering enables it to carry heavier payloads over more aggressive terrain as compared to our similar sized skid-steer platforms. In fact, payload is now limited only by the structural load limits of the gearboxes, wheels and tires instead to being dictated by the torque required to overcome the friction forces associated with skid-steering.

The platform leverages the latest RMP Central Controller Architecture, which allows simple and intuitive communication with the platform over Ethernet, CAN or USB. Users can set a variety of performance parameters including acceleration and deceleration rate limits as well as turning radius. An optional integrated auxiliary power module provides DC power for task specific sensors, radios and other equipment and payload items.

Read all about its unique capabilities and see more photos here.

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Steve “Woz” Wozniak to move to New Zealand?

Segway Polo champion and Apple co-founder Steve “Woz” Wozniak may be coming to live in New Zealand, according to NBC News (USA). Woz is a founding member of California’s Aftershocks – the world’s first Segway Polo team – and donated the cup that bears his name that is the coveted prize of the annual Segway Polo World Cup.

NBC say that “…he and his wife, Janet Hill, simply love New Zealand” and that Woz confirmed he has applied for a type of Australian residency visa. Persons holding an Australian permanent resident visa can live and work in New Zealand.

On the other hand, Silicon Valley’s Mercury News implies that NBC might be over-selling the Kiwi angle to this popular story that has bounced around the internet over the last few days. According to the paper’s reporter Mike Cassidy: “The thing is, Woz told me, he’s always liked Australia. The people are nice. It seems a place far away, he said, from the hustle and bustle and the tensions and worries of the United States. Once he obtains citizenship, he might choose to live in New Zealand, he says, because it’s pleasant and accepts Australian citizens. But really, he said, it’s a little early to be nailing down all the details.”

But here at Segway NZ we perked our ears up when we read this: “It’s like a whole new second chance for me to learn about another country’s history, to become rooters for their teams,” Woz said. “It’s sort of fun.”

Aside: If you click to the full story at Mercury News noted above be sure to read Cassidy’s column “Facebook kills the Post Office no matter its stock price” in which he observes how the 8 year old social media giant is impacting the 237 year old institution to an extent that it never foresaw. Thinking along the same lines but in our own sphere of influence, we think the Segway PT is going to impact how people get around more than most people have yet realised during it’s second decade in existence (2012-2022), and in an upcoming article we’ll explain why.

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