Segway 2.0

Business Week writes:

In predicting the future of technology, the hardest part might not be envisioning what can be invented, but determining what will be needed. There’s an awful lot of amazing technology in the personal transporter, which is powered by computer-controlled electric motors that automatically keep the machine in balance in response to bumps in the road and the rider’s movements. Still, when it comes to clean, inexpensive, one-person transportation, for many people a bike does just fine. Disabled users swear by the Segway, and police departments have adopted it, but that doesn’t make the personal transporter the game changer Kamen imagined. Thousands have sold, but not nearly as many as Segway hoped for.

“I look at the technology,” says Norrod, “and ask, ‘Where else can it be used?”‘ Norrod’s approach is what you can think of as “future agnostic.” In his view, Segway needn’t define a whole new urban ecology or replace the car. It can put its technology into anything that moves. That means unmanned vehicles with potential military or industrial uses, or multiperson vehicles that use Segway’s computers and electric engines to glide smoothly over obstacles. And Norrod thinks Segway’s efficient electric motors could be central to a new generation of hybrid cars (yes, cars). Segway has already built a four-wheeled, multiperson prototype. “If people want four wheels,” says Norrod, “I should give ’em four wheels.”

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Rajesh Jain

An Entrepreneur based in Mumbai, India.