Archive for June, 2013

Go west, young man! Segway NZ relocates over the bridge

This week Segway New Zealand began the move to new premises in Auckland.

Here is a panorama photo of two corners that was taken this afternoon, shortly after the moving truck departed. Yes, there is a lot of work yet to do. This is day one of transforming our new space into a bigger and better Segway Workshop, where we hold new stock and replacement parts, service customer’s PTs, and store our own demo/hire PTs and pre-owned stock.

It may take a week or two to get everything unpacked, set up and fully organised again….when once again there will be a place for everything, and everything is in its place!

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We were on Auckland’s North Shore for the last 8 years (Northcote 2005-2011, Milford 2011-13). Prior to that, Philip Bendall privately imported the first two Segway Personal Transporters (PTs) into New Zealand in September 2003 and began trading as “Segway Hire” from Tauranga soon after. In 2004 Segway New Zealand launched in Ponsonby, Auckland. We’re now located in “The Great Northwest” of the city.

Over the next six months look out for occasional posts featuring local photos as well as scans of NZ magazine articles from those early days of the “Segway Human Transporter” (as it was known back then).

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Zoos adopting Segway PTs for tours and staff

Zoos are adopting the Segway PT as a method to attract customers, as well as a way to efficiently move staff around their typically large areas.

Many zoos and animal parks in the US offer Segway Tours, and Bristol Zoo has just become the first in the UK to offer tours.

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Determination of Segway PT as a ‘mobility device’ moves forward

A defended hearing in the Whangarei District Court began yesterday that may ultimately determine if the Segway Personal Transporter (PT) meets the legal definition of a ‘mobility device’ in New Zealand. The definition currently includes powerchairs (electric wheelchairs) and mobility scooters, and it has been Segway New Zealand’s view since 2004 that the Segway PT also falls within the defining criteria set out under the Land Transport Act. There is no prior case law on this section of the Act.

The hearing was not completed during the one day that it was set down for. Due to scheduling issues with the availability of the presiding judge and one expert witness, no date was set for the case to continue. A date will be determined on 31 July, and it may be some months before the court reconvenes to hear this matter.

A newspaper article in the NZ Herald today incorrectly reported on some parts of the hearing, including that the number of Segway PTs sold in New Zealand to date was about 85,000 (when in fact, this figure relates to worldwide sales).

Segway New Zealand welcomes enquiries on 0800 2 SEGWAY.

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Removing and changing the InfoKey battery (a trick to remove the bezel)

Calling 0800 2 SEGWAY will connect you with Philip Bendall at Segway New Zealand. Guess what the two most common calls for assistance are?

1. “How do I unlock Turtle mode on the InfoKey” and

2. “How do I remove the back cover from the InfoKey so I can change the battery? I can’t see the coin-slot on the back cover, as described in the Manual. Where has it gone? Please help!”

We’ve answered the first question here and here (these pages have become some of our most-read News postings).

Today we answer the second question.

If you can’t see the coin slot then your InfoKey has the bezel accessory screwed onto the back that enables it to be slid onto the LeanSteer Frame InfoKey Dock (and thread the optional InfoKey Wrist Strap accessory). To remove this bezel, and reveal the back cover with the coin slot that holds in the battery, first slide the InfoKey into the LeanSteer Frame InfoKey Dock (until it “clicks” into place”.

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Grasp the InfoKey as shown in the first photo, twist anti-clockwise about a quarter-turn, and simply lift the InfoKey off, leaving the bezel behind. The bezel will remain in the Dock. Then flip the InfoKey over and remove the back cover using a coin or large screwdriver. Simple, huh?

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There is one important thing to watch out for when you remove the back, or come to put it back on. There is a thin black rubber O-ring seal that sits in a depression around the circumference of the back face of the InfoKey. When the back cover is screwed down onto this, it makes a water-tight seal. Sometimes, this O-ring can partially lift out, or even completely fall out, when you remove the back cover. If this happens, carefully press it back down into place before you screw the back cover on again.

Without the O-ring, not only can water get in, but the back cover will not screw down tightly. This can result in a poor connection between the battery and the InfoKey, causing unreliable operation when you push the InfoKey buttons, and also the regular loss of time and date settings. A poor connection can encourage a user to press the buttons harder than is necessary, eventually resulting in failure of the button mechanism. Failed buttons cannot be repaired, and the entire InfoKey must be replaced.

If your O-ring becomes lost, please contact Segway New Zealand immediately and we’ll send you a replacement.

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Segway Tours to be exempted from ‘Adventure Activities’ regulations

Tourism is one of New Zealand’s largest export industries, second only to the dairy industry in terms of foreign exchange earnings. It directly employs 6.2 per cent of the New Zealand workforce and indirectly employs a further 3.4 per cent.

In total, around one in 10 working New Zealanders is employed in the tourism industry. Segway Tours and Segway Fun Ride businesses are part of this sector, and are an excellent example of early adoption by New Zealand entrepreneurs and businesses of the opportunities made possible by new technology.

For example Kevin Hey started his Queenstown business Segway On Q in  in 2006. This was the first daily Segway Tour business in the Southern Hemisphere, and today Kevin operates two fleets of Segway Personal Transporters (PTs) in this most beautiful of locations.

Queenstown is New Zealand’s top tourist destination, offering fun-in-the-sun over summer and exhilaration on the ski slopes during winter. It is also the hometown of New Zealand’s world-famous Adventure Tourism industry. International and local travellers flock to Queenstown for high-adrenalin thrills like bungie jumping and river canyon jet boating (incidentally, both of these technologies were invented in New Zealand – by AJ Hacket and Hamilton Jet, respectively). Other popular pursuits include white water and black water rafting, mountain biking, quad bike tours, giant swings out into nowhere, tree-top zip lines, sky diving, canyoning, and dirt biking.

One thing all of these activities have in common is they fall under the new Adventure Activities Regulations. These businesses offer an activity that is ‘”designed to deliberately expose the participant to a risk of serious harm” where participants are “being guided, taught how, or assisted to participate in the activity.”

For the last couple of years Segway Tour operators in New Zealand have been unsure as to whether or not their activities would be captured by the Adventure Activity criteria. If so, they would need to register with the Ministry of Businesses, Innovation and Employment, and meet strict new safety requirements intended to better manage the risks inherent in adventurous activities.

Several New Zealand Segway Tour businesses submitted information about their operations to the Ministry for assessment, and last week received a response that Segway Tours do not meet the level of risk that the Ministry has determined constitutes an “Adventure Activities.”

Segway New Zealand is pleased with the Ministry’s determination, because Segway Tours are intended to be a safe, pleasant way to see more of a memorable location in less time.

Segway Tours are one of those rare outdoor activities that is suitable for just about everyone – young or old, fully active or mobility impaired. Segway Tours sure are lots of fun, which is where we get phrase the Segway Smile from. They do not set out to be “an adrenalin junkie fix” more typical of the thrills associated with Adventure Activities. Segway New Zealand has successful encouraged all current tour operators to adhere to the Segway Authorized Tour code of best practice. Participants are properly trained before setting out, helmets are used, and the routes are carefully planned for ease of travel and to be non-distruptive to other people sharing the same space. Segway PTs have safety features build-in, such as (anti-skid) traction control, electronic speed limiting and automatic prevention from free-wheeling down a hill.

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Here is the Ministry’s response to Segway On Q:

Adventure activities – not required to register

Thank you for notifying the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment about your adventure/outdoor operation for registration under the Health and Safety in Employment (Adventure Activities) Regulations 2011.  

Whether an activity is subject to the Regulations is determined by the criteria set out as follows:

An adventure activity is an activity:

  • that is provided to a participant in return for payment
  • that is land-based or water-based
  • that involves the participant being guided, taught how, or assisted to participate in the activity
  • the main purpose of which is the recreational or educational experience of the participant
  • that is designed to deliberately expose the participant to a risk of serious harm that must be managed by the provider of the activity

and in which:

  • failure of the provider’s management systems (such as failure of operational procedures or failure to provide reliable equipment) is likely to result in serious harm to the participant; or
  • the participant is deliberately exposed to dangerous terrain or dangerous waters.

Guidance on how to interpret and apply these criteria is provided in the Ministry publication “Guidance for Operators”. 

The information provided by you appears to indicate that your operation does not meet the criteria.  If that is correct, you do not need to be registered with the Ministry. 

Although your operation may not be subject to the Regulations, you continue to have responsibilities under the Health and Safety in Employment Act 1992.  The Act applies to all New Zealand workplaces and places duties on employers, employees, self-employed persons, principals and others who are in a position to manage or control hazards.  The Ministry also strongly supports the practice of all operators in the adventure and outdoor sector undertaking regular safety audits. 

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Lunar Rover a pioneering electric vehicle with redundant systems

The Segway Personal Transporter (PT) is renowned for safety that has been designed in, right from the start.

This has been achieved by what engineers called ‘redundant subsystems.’ You can read more about what this means on this page at the Segway Safety website.

In brief, every component of the Segway PT that is critical to the device retaining it’s self-balancing function is “doubled up” so that if one part fails the other can take over completely. For example, there are two batteries, two identical but independent computer control boards, a pair of double-wound electric motors, and more than twice as many “gyroscopes” than the minimum required to know which way is up (there is triple-redundancy in the pitch axis).

“Redundancy” is a key feature of equipment used in mission-critical applications. It is common in medical equipment (Dean Kamen, the inventor of the Segway PT is famous for his inventions in the medical field). It is also found in military machines, public utilities such as electric power generation, and in corporate computer networks.

Returning our discussion to vehicles, and to electrical vehicles in particular, perhaps the most famous electric vehicle of all (well, after the Segway PT) is the Lunar Rover.

Four of these were built by Boeing in 1970-72, of which three made it to the moon on Apollos’ 15, 16 and 17 respectively (Apollo 18 was cancelled). When you’re 400,000 km from home you can’t just call a tow-truck, so the engineers built in redundant subsystems not dissimilar to those used in the Segway PT. Here is a description by writer Paul Charman, as featured in NZ Herald’s Driven section (19 June 2013):

Each wheel was individually powered by a 190 watt motor, for a total power of 750 watts, or one horsepower (the same power output as a Segway PT). The vehicle’s top speed was 13 kph on a relatively smooth surface, and the range 65km.

Two 36 volt batteries provided the power, although either battery could power all vehicle systems if required. The front and rear wheels had separate steering systems but, if one steering system failed, it could have been disconnected and vehicle would have operated with the other.

Centralised controls allowed either astronaut to drive the vehicle.

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Beach Patrols on the Segway x2 (Lake Ontario) – how the Segway Patroller is transforming Community Policing Programs

Here is the latest deployment of the Segway x2 for beach patrol (be sure to read our earlier story about beach patrols), as detailed in this story at the Segway Blog:

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Cobourg, Ontario is a picturesque Canadian town that sits on Lake Ontario’s north shore. It is home
to nearly 20,000 residents and is well-known for its beautiful waterfront, pristine beaches and bustling downtown district.

Cobourg’s Police Service includes 34 uniformed officers who had been patrolling the town’s waterfront area with bicycles and an all-terrain vehicle (ATV). That is until they discovered the Segway® Personal Transporter (PT).

Terry Stanley, Constable, Cobourg Police Service is responsible for all aspects of the department’s community services. He commented, “I first became aware of the Segway x2 PT through the local dealer, Segway of Ontario. I was impressed with its versatility and immediately began considering how it could be implemented by our community policing officers to more efficiently patrol Cobourg’s beach, waterfront and downtown areas.

Today, the police service uses its two Segway x2s daily. Officers enjoy patrolling on the PT because
it is:

  • Versatile – The Segway x2 is optimized for cross-terrain. It travels seamlessly on the sand of Cobourg’s large beaches and through the diverse terrain of its waterfront area including up hills and ramps and over sidewalk curbs and boardwalks. It can also easily travel from outdoors to indoors and patrol the town’s many retail shops.
  • Mobile – The x2 allows officers to smoothly move through Cobourg’s dense pedestrian traffic and quickly attend to any emergency situation that may arise in a bustling tourist destination. The x2 can travel up to 20 kph/12.5 mph and allows an officer to move up to 3x faster and cover 9x more area than walking – all without fatigue.
  • Maintenance Free – The Segway x2 is quality built and Cobourg’s Police Service appreciates the fact that it’s virtually maintenance free. Its x2s are always up and running.
  • An Invaluable Public Relations Tool – The Segway x2’s unique and patented self balancing technology is the ultimate icebreaker. It draws a crowd of amazed and curious citizens. In addition, the height of the x2’s base allows Cobourg’s officers to see over large crowds and be seen. The PT assists officers to engage with citizens and build good will in the community.

“The police service is very pleased to have implemented the Segway x2 to patrol our beautiful lakeside town,” said Stanley. “The x2 is a quiet, environmentally friendly personal transportation solution that has had a positive impact on our community policing program. We’re a very satisfied customer.”

The Segway Personal Transporter has transformed policing, public safety and private security around the world. Boston Police were first off the mark, debuting on the original, white-wheeled, pre-production Segway Human Transporters in 2002, and the Segway i180 Police spec model was launched in 2005. Since then, the introduction of Segway Patroller models in 2009 has delivered even greater performance for officers on the beat and on the street, in the malls and on the beach.

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Segway, Inc.’s latest video really highlights just how versatile this powerful tool is when it comes to connecting with the community and delivering safer environments and a more responsive police force.

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