History of Segway
The history of the Segway goes back to the end of the 90s, when the Segway Inc. company was founded by Dean Kamen in July 1999 to develop non-medical applications for self-balancing machines. In December 2001, the Segway HT (Human Transporter), a transporter with two wheels, was launched, with first deliveries to customers in early 2002.
The original Segway models featured three speed settings: 10 km/h, 13 km/h and 16 km/h. Twist grips were used for the steering of early versions that varied the speeds of the two motors. The range of the p-Series was around 10-16 km on a fully charged battery. After some software updates regarding the management of the Segway when on low battery, the Segway was renamed to Segway PT (Personal Transporter).
In August 2006 Segway stopped making all previous models and introduced the i2 and x2 products which were steered by leaning the handlebars to the right or left with the arms. They had a maximum speed of 20 km/h from a pair of motors with regenerative braking and a range up to 24-40 km. The new versions also introduced the wireless InfoKey which shows mileage and a trip odometer, sets off an alarm and also it’s possible to put the Segway on a safe mode (Turtle Mode) to decrease the maximum speed of the machine and increase its range.
In March 2014, Segway announced third generation designs, including the i2 SE and x2 SE, new handlebar frame and powerbase designs, with integrated lighting.
Ninebot Inc., a Beijing-based transportation robotics startup and a rival, acquired Segway in April 2015.
How to ride segway
Since from being standing still you start to lean your body slightly forward, your brain starts to feel the decrease in balance because the fluid in your inner ear shifts and tries to compensate it by putting one of your legs forward to be stable again. Successively the other leg, and in that way you start to walk.
The way a Segway works is based on our human system. Instead of legs, muscles, a brain and inner ear, it has wheels, motors, a collection of microprocessors and a set of tilt sensors.
The main sensor system of a Segway are its assembly of gyroscopes. A gyroscope is a device with a spinning wheel inside a frame. A spinning object resists changes to its axis of rotation, and whenever there is an applied force to it, it is going to balance itself. Because of this resistance to outside force, a gyroscope wheel will maintain its position in space, but its frame will be moving and tilting. So by measuring the position of the spinning wheel relative to the frame, a sensor can tell the pitch and its pitch rate. The Segway gets the same effect with a different sort of mechanism by using a solid-state angular rate sensor that determines an object’s rotation using the Coriolis effect.
The Segway only needs three gyroscopic sensors to work but it has two more, making a total of five, for more detail and redundancy in the readings. In addition to that, the Segway has two tilt sensors filled with electrolyte fluid which works similarly as our inner ear system.
All this information is procesed by two electronic circuit boards containing 10 microprocessors which check the position sensors 100 times per second. All of this brain power is needed to make extremely precise adjustments to make all of this work.
The electric motors, which are powered by a pair of batteries, can turn each of the wheels independently at variable speeds, so when going forward or backward both wheels spin at the same speed and when turning or rotating, one wheel spins faster than the other one or both spin in opposite directions, respectively.