Bolt from blue boosts views

Like a bolt out of the blue, Segway NZ News was visited (>150) and viewed (>250) about four times more than usual a couple of days ago.

That “bolt” was of course Usain Bolt – the world’s fastest man – who was accidentally knocked over when a cameraman riding a self-balancing scooter snagged a wheel and fell down.

Bolt out of the blue

Widely reported in the news media to be a Segway Personal Transporter (PT), the machine that toppled the top sprinter was in fact a simple, Chinese-made copycat machine that lacks the full redundant safety systems built into every genuine Segway PT. Only the Segway PT has two batteries, two controller boards, double-wound motors (essentially two independent motors inside one motor casing), and a package of multiple balance sensors and accelerometers to keep the rider upright and safe. Should a component suddenly fail, the Segway PT maintains the ability to properly balance, the rider retains full control until the machine elegantly slows to a stop, allowing the opportunity to step off. No other brand of self-balancing personal transporter offers this. This is the difference that makes the Segway PT the only self-balancing personal transportation device safe and suitable for use by individuals and commercial users in New Zealand.

Here at Segway New Zealand we believe this level of safety is vitally important. Should a self-balancing machine ever lose the ability to maintain balance then a fall will happen without warning and all control will be lost in an instant. The rider will have no opportunity to take remedial action.

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Back to Bolt: Segway New Zealand contacted all of the major news agencies in New Zealand as soon as we identified “the scooter that beat Bolt” was not a product manufactured by Segway, Inc. One visible difference is how the wheels are attached with five studs, whereas a genuine Segway PT’s uses three studs. All major New Zealand media received our notification (together with supportive photographic proof) by 9am NZ-time on the day the story broke. We had hoped the various newspapers would update and correct their online articles, and that television news shows would begin correctly reporting the facts. Alas, not a single organisation could be bothered.

Perhaps it isn’t really news unless they can say “Segway” in the headline? Ironically, the original NZ Herald story never used the word Segway (instead referring to the device only as a “scooter”) yet a couple of hours after we sent our notification this paper it published a side-bar story entitled “A Short History of Segway Attacks.” Sigh….

Never let the facts get in the way of good headline, huh?

And so is was that Segway NZ News achieved one of its highest-ever views in a day. As Oscar Wilde famously said: “The only thing worse than being talked about is not being talked about.”

Fortunately, Usain Bolt was unhurt and laughed it off in a press conference, jokingly suggesting his rival had paid off the cameraman to “…take him out but make it look like an accident.”

Here in New Zealand television and film cameramen have been using locally modified hands-free Segway PTs since 2004 without incident. On average, these half-dozen setups are used several times a week all around the country at a wide range of televised sports matches and commercial shoots. Perhaps most famously they deliver smooth and elegant footage at rugby games, as reported in our popular post Rugby: Segway was the winner on the day.

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