Urban Transport

Segway offers a new way to ride around campus

Segway offers a new way to rid...
The S-Pod has a top speed of 24 mph and is designed for enclosed campuses
The S-Pod has a top speed of 24 mph and is designed for enclosed campuses
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The S-Pod has a top speed of 24 mph and is designed for enclosed campuses
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The S-Pod has a top speed of 24 mph and is designed for enclosed campuses

Prior to its acquisition by China's Ninebot, Segway was mostly known for its self-balancing people mover that never quite captured the personal transportation market share the company hoped it would. Nowadays, the mobility firm makes all kind of last mile electric transport solutions – from kickscooters to bizarre skates, and is even eyeing the e-moto market. With the S-Pod, Segway returns to its self-balancing roots with a chair-on-wheels designed for use at airports, theme parks and shopping malls.

"Segway-Ninebot has established itself as a category leader in short distance transportation solutions, from innovative delivery robots to kickscooters now used in cities across the world," said the company's CEO, Luke Gao. "We are changing the way people move from place to place. With an eye towards the future of how cities will evolve, as well as the mobility needs in the off-road space, we are notching up our offerings heading into 2020 so that they will fulfill the mobility needs and expectations of the world of tomorrow."

Spearheading that vision is the Segway S-Pod, a self-balancing chair with a top speed of 24 mph (38.6 km/h). The single passenger doesn't need to lean into the corners like the Personal Transporters of old, but can accelerate, brake and turn by adjusting the vehicle's center of gravity using a control knob on the navigation panel. Segway says that this setup affords the S-Pod improved safety and stability, though the stabilization wheel out front will no doubt help stop the vehicle tipping forward too much when braking.

The inspiration for the S-Pod is reported to be the Gyrospheres from the movie Jurassic World, though the only image of the vehicle that's been shared by Segway shows an open design best suited to indoor or dry weather use in enclosed campuses, rather than the enclosed capsule from the dino blockbuster. Interestingly, the very basic information given prior to its CES 2020 launch does mention that it can be remote-controlled using a detachable pad.

Other electric mobility solutions on their way to Segway-Ninebot's booth at the Las Vegas Convention Center from January 7 include a compact, lightweight electric kickscooter called the Air T15, a Powersports Series electric dirt bike dubbed the SSV-Villain and the zippy eScooter announced last month.

Source: Segway-Ninebot via Globenewswire

6 comments
guzmanchinky
Did anyone else's mind go straight to the humans in Wall-E???
paul314
Depending on the range, this could eat the urban commuting/taxi market. You could park what, 6 or 8 of these in the space you need for a car? (Of course they'll cost way too much and not go far enough and hurl people out in collisions, but other than that.) In somewhere like an airport, one of these could zip mobility-impaired people to their gates with operators sitting in an office somewhere...
f8lee
Much as the original Segway proved to be, this seems far more gimmicky than need be...what's the advantage of the "self balancing" part?

Recall that not long after the "world changing" (John Doerr et al) device hit the market not-quite-copycats appeared that gave the mall cops the same stand-up transportation experience for less money, using a third wheel under the platform. The hype factor of a self balancing vehicle was eclipsed when people realized the function of said vehicle was to enable a person to move along in the standing position.

So here we are with a sit-down version - why? Hype factor aside ("golly gee, ma, that doo-dad only has two wheels!") but if it's to enable a person to be seated in a quasi-egg shaped chair and roll to the next location how quickly will similar copycats appear at far lower costs?
buzzclick
I remember the Segway wheelchair that was introduced back in 2001. It had a three-wheel configuration on each side that was able to raise the rider up to the level of people standing and climbed stairways. I assume that it was too expensive to become a viable solution to individuals with mobility issues to ever go mainstream. This is seems to be a simpler version.
OwkayeGo
I agree with f8lee , there's no benefit whatsoever to making something like this "self-balancing" when a 3 or 4-wheeled mobile chair can provide the same service at much lower cost. Not only that but the user will feel much safer with more than two wheels on the ground.
ljaques
Outstanding! 24mph you say? Loz is going to have a blast, I'm sure. Guz, the thought blipped by, but those blobs would never zip around at 24mph behind their screens, burgers, and big dump shakes.