Computer hardware and custom-designed software, about 10 microprocessors, battery chargers and rubber compounds, together set in motion the eagerly awaited self-balancing, electric-powered transportation machine. Officially called the Segway Human Transporter, the machine is a product from the technologies of Delphi Automotive Systems, GE Plastics, Michelin, Pacific Scientific, Saft, and Silicon Sensing Systems.
For example, Delphi assisted in the development of the circuit boards and user interface components, and Saft helped develop self-contained nickel and metal hydride electric batteries that feature integrated charge management electronics.
Dean Kamen, Segway's chairman and the man with the vision behind the human transporter, said: "To bring a product like the Segway HT to market you need to have world-class supply partners with incredible vision, and we've brought together just such a team."
The 65- to 80-pound Segway (depending on model) looks like a huge barbell with a handle. Two large wheels are placed on either side of the platform where the rider stands, gripping the handle.
The scooter, which has no brakes, can go from 5 to 17 miles an hour. The vehicle senses and reacts to the rider's subtle shifts in balance.
The first customers to test the Segway include the US Postal Service, General Electric, the National Parks Service and Amazon.com.
The company will produce three models: the i-series, which optimises range and speed across a variety of terrain; the e-series, which is designed for business applications where it is necessary to carry cargo - up to 75 pounds in addition to the rider; and the p-series, which will target densely populated areas, both indoors and out.
Segway will first be introduced for commercial use and initial applications include large scale manufacturing plants and warehouse operations, travel and tourism, and corporate and campus transportation.
Consumer availability is planned for late next year.
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