In 2001, a company that was developing applications for self-balancing tech outside of medical use introduced a pioneering concept in the “personal transporter.” This was the Segway PT, a self-balancing two-wheeled electric scooter that took the world by storm. While it had trouble being accepted for general use on roadways in many countries, the Segway managed to find use as conveyances for tourism areas, transport inside closed facilities and even as police-only vehicles. During the Consumer Electronics Show this week, Segway Inc. has introduced a new self-balancing vehicle. While not as compact as the Segway PT, it is more comfortable.
Las Vegas has long been privileged to host the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) for several decades now, making it the site for the first appearances of many neat innovations in tech. And as Yahoo News has it, it got a first-hand experience with the unveiling of the S-Pod, the latest self-balancing personal transporter from Segway Inc. In contrast to the standing-room accommodation of the Segway PT, the S-Pod actually allows its passenger to sit down. It is in fact an ultra-high-tech wheelchair with a comfortable seat and a lot smarter auto-balance system to boot.
How smart? Rather than leaning the body forward or back to determine the transporter’s direction of motion and speed, as with the Segway PT, this time the S-Pod will automatically shift the seat’s center of gravity and the rider’s with it. Control this time around is by the aid of a joystick, like many other motorized wheelchairs. The S-Pod’s joystick is also particularly sensitive, easily accelerating or decelerating/braking the further forward or back it is moved. While the demonstration S-Pod at Segway Inc.’s CES booth has a speed cap of 7.5 miles per hour, production units are said to have a max speed of 24 mph.
Segway has yet to reveal a price range for the auto-balancing S-Pod, but it has provided some specs and a timetable on its release. On a full charge that lasts about two hours, the S-Pod can cover 43 miles. Commercial release of the new personal transport will likely happen during this year’s Holiday season, and an S-Pod variant for consumer use will arrive next year.
Image courtesy of SB Nation