Though it has been adapted to a number of inventive shapes and sizes ranging from three-wheeled patrollers to self-balancing two seaters, the Segway never quite found the commercial success envisaged when the first models appeared way back in 2002. Now the company is bringing a little robotics into the mix to give it a new edge. The Segway Robot builds on the company's approach to self-balancing urban transport by converting into a robotic helper once you hop off.
Unveiled at CES this week, the Segway Robot was developed in collaboration with Intel and Chinese robotics firm Ninebot. At its base, the vehicle looks a lot like those currently popular "hoverboards" that seem to be catching fire all over the place, with a flat platform for the user's feet flanked by wheels on either side. This can be ridden around like a handle-free Segway at up to 18 km/h (11 mph) over an 30 km (18 mi) range, powered by a pair of 800 W motors.
Sitting in the center of the vehicle in between the user's legs is a small, slender unit. From here a rectangular screen folds out, transforming the vehicle into an animated robot on wheels. With Intel's RealSense RGB-D depth sensing camera, along with other fisheye tracking and photo cameras, the robot could be programmed to recognize, follow or take snaps and video of subjects or its master. There's also a microphone array to allow for voice commands.
The robot is powered by an Intel Atom processor and runs on Android with an open SDK. The company hopes to start shipping developer units in the third quarter of 2016, which will include enrolment in Segway's Robot Developer Program.
You can see the robot in action in the video below.
Source: Segway Robot