Segway Human Transporter

The Mysterious Segway Human Transporter

Low section of man riding segway
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What was once a mysterious invention created by Dean Kamen — which had everyone speculating as to what it was — is now known as the Segway Human Transporter, the first self-balancing, electric-powered transportation machine. The Segway Human Transporter is a personal transport device that uses five gyroscopes and a built-in computer to remain upright.

The Unveiling

The Segway Human Transporter was unveiled to the public on Dec. 3, 2001, in Bryant Park in New York City on the ABC News morning program "Good Morning America."

The first Segway Human Transporter used no brakes and did a nifty 12 mph. The speed and direction (including stopping) were controlled by the rider shifting weight and a manual turning mechanism on one of the handlebars. The initial public demonstrations showed that the Segway could travel smoothly across pavement, gravel, grass and small obstacles.

Dynamic Stabilization

Dean Kamen's team developed a breakthrough technology the company termed "Dynamic Stabilization," which is the essence of the Segway. Dynamic Stabilization enables Segway self-balancing emulation to work seamlessly with the body's movements. Gyroscopes and tilt sensors in the Segway HT monitor a user's center of gravity about 100 times a second. When a person leans slightly forward, the Segway HT moves forward. When leaning back, the Segway moves back. One battery charge (at a cost of 10 cents) lasts 15 miles, and the 65-pound Segway HT can run over your toes without causing you harm.

The U.S. Postal Service, the National Park Service and the city of Atlanta field tested the invention. The consumer was able to buy the Segway in the year 2003 at an initial cost of $3,000.

Segway produced three distinct initial models: the i-series, the e-series, and the p-series. However, in 2006 Segway discontinued all previous models and announced its second-generation designs. The i2 and x2 also allowed users to steer by leaning the handlebars to the right or left, which matched users' leaning forward and backward to accelerate and decelerate. 

Dean Kamen and 'Ginger'

The following article was written in 2000 when the Segway Human Transporter was a mysterious invention known only by its codename, "Ginger."

"A book proposal has heightened the intrigue about a secret invention touted as being bigger than the Internet or the PC, and Dean Kamen is the inventor. The article states that Ginger is not a medical device, even though Kamen has created many medical innovations. Ginger is supposed to be a fun invention that comes in two models, Metro and Pro, will cost about $,2000 and be an easy sell. Ginger will also revolutionize city planning, create an upheaval in several existing industries and may be an environmentally friendly product. The world has a new buzz. Dean Kamen, a renowned inventor, and visionary who holds more than 100 US patents has invented a breakthrough device, code-named Ginger.

"My best guess, after looking over the patents Dean Kamen now holds and after reading about the inventor, is that Ginger is a transportation device that flies and requires no gasoline. My impression of Mr. Kamen is that he is an inventor in the best sense of the word — his inventions improve lives and the man cares about the future welfare of the world. Whatever Ginger really is, my intuition tells me that Ginger will make the impact that all the 'hype' claims it will."

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Your Citation
Bellis, Mary. "Segway Human Transporter." ThoughtCo, Aug. 27, 2020, Bellis, Mary. (2020, August 27). Segway Human Transporter. Retrieved from Bellis, Mary. "Segway Human Transporter." ThoughtCo. (accessed February 4, 2023).