When Inventist revealed the Hovertrax a few years back, we noted that it was more Segway-like than anything Marty McFly would be seen zooming around future Hill Valley on. These so-called hoverboards have since taken off (though not literally), and Segway is throwing its hat in the ring with the Ninebot by Segway miniPRO. Knee control bar aside, it's a hands-free, two-wheeler with lean-to-go and -steer functionality.

The "Ninebot by Segway" moniker is the result of the acquisition of Segway by Ninebot last April. Indeed, part of Ninebot's website references a first-batch release from November 2015, where the device is referred to only as the "Ninebot miniPRO." The Segway name, however, appears to have attracted a little more attention this time round.

The miniPRO itself is a 10 x 22-in (26 x 55-cm) electric scooter that weighs in at 28 lb (13 kg). It has an aircraft-grade magnesium alloy frame and 10.5-in inflatable tires aimed at providing a smooth ride.

The device is powered by a 800-W dual motor and a lithium-ion battery, which together produce a top speed of 10 mph (16 km/h) and a range of 14 mi (25 km) on a single charge. There's apparently enough oomph in the motor to overcome 15-degree slopes, as well as humps and other everyday obstacles.

Rider's movements are reportedly tracked over 100 times a second by an on-board computer that uses "complex algorithms, sensors and high-speed processors" to make sense of them. This is said to make for a straightforward means of control that can be mastered in a matter of minutes and is also made easier by the miniPRO's ability to learn and adapt to the user's riding style.

The padded control bar provides a rest for the user's knees and is also said to help to make riding easier. In addition, it is adjustable, so as to accommodate riders of different sizes and can be quickly detached for ease of scooter portability.

Mastering the miniPRO is achieved by way of a short riding tutorial on an accompanying Ninebot by Segway app, which is available for Android and iOS. The app also connects to the device itself via Bluetooth and allows users to adjust the colors of its lights, upgrade the firmware, run diagnostics in the event of problems, control the device remotely and, if needs be, trigger a phone alert if someone tries to make off with a parked miniPRO. Speed and other dashboard performance data can also be viewed through the app.

Segway also points to the fact that the miniPRO is the first such device to be awarded UL 2272 certification, an award from independent safety consultancy Underwriters Laboratories for electrical and fire safety. The miniPRO is also IP54-rated to be dustproof and weatherproof.

The Ninebot by Segway miniPRO is available to pre-order now on Amazon, where it is exclusively available for a time, before being rolled out to other retailers. It is currently priced at a rather expensive US$999.

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