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A Human Transporter?!

The company, Segway LLC [now Inc.], was founded on July 27th 1999 with the vision to develop highly-efficient, zero-emission transportation solutions using dynamic stabilization technology. The company's research and development was focused on creating devices that took up a minimal amount of space, were extremely maneuverable and could operate on pedestrian sidewalks and pathways. The first employees came from Dean Kamen's company, DEKA Research and Development Corp. The company's first product, the Segway Human Transporter (HT), was the first two-wheeled, self-balancing, electric transportation device to use Kamen's patented dynamic stabilization technology. Segway Inc. is based in Bedford, New Hampshire and was founded by inventor and entrepreneur, Dean Kamen, to transform the way people work and live. The Segway Human Transporter (HT) i Series model i167 was the company's best-known product, a result of years of research and development led by Kamen with the goal of building something that would make a unique and lasting contribution to society.

Some of the highlights of pre-production models of the HT are surprising (see photo). For example, the earliest prototype of the Segway was codenamed "Ginger" and had tiny wheels, military grade gyros, motors taken from computer printers and no software. The next significant step in product development/evolution was the C0 (Concept #0) model, nicknamed "Sybil" for it's multiple personalities that varied from completely elegant function to going crazy and in one case smashing the rider repreatably against the nearest wall (ouch). Sybil had larger wheels than Ginger (borrowed from the iBOT), was the first to use Nickel Cadmium (NiCd) batteries and a thumb-based steering mechanism. After Sybil, the Concept #1 (C1) design gained special tires from Michelin, stylish wheels from the design group, and except for the pure "T" shape handlebars, looked very much like the final design overall. This HT changed somewhat at the "D1" (Design #1) stage, it gained an especially groovy-looking W-shaped handlebar and wrist-based steering was incorportated. D1 was followed by V1 (Validation #1) prior to the final release of the Segway HT i167 model (available to commercial customers immediately upon announcement on 12/3/01 and to pre-order by the general public a year later on 11/18/02).

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The Darwinian design evolution of the Segway HT shown on a 'The "Ginger" Museum' banner from SegFesT 2004
(more photos of the banner by Stuart Bloom Ginger to D1 and V1 to final design)

The inspiration for the name "Segway" came from the word segue (pronounced segway), which is defined as, "to transition smoothly from one state to another." A Segway HT transforms a person into an empowered pedestrian, allowing him/her to go farther, move more quickly and/or "transitions them" from their house or workplace to public transit, without needing a car. The Segway HT i167 (code-name, "Ginger") reflected Dean's belief that science and engineering can be harnessed to improve people's daily lives and community. HT for "human transporter" needs no explanation, yet the name "i Series" is less well-defined. The letter "i" seems to have been an abbreviation for "industrial" or "industry" to support its heavy-duty nature of construction, and the fact it was designed for use on factory floors in manufacturing facilities, and to be marketed for sale as fleets used in the corporate world. The model number "167" apparently was based on the battery life. Prior to release, a number of Segways were tested using Nickel Cadmium (NiCad) batteries and the i Series with NiCads (never released) was called the "i100" and the e Series, e for enterprise or expeditor(?) was called the "e100" (never released). When the same Segway got new Nickel Metal Hydride (NiMH) batteries it had 67% greater battery life and received the name i167. Segway LLC promised a less expensive model, the p Series for "the rest of us" would soon follow (apparently the p Series with NiCads was called the "p80").

The Segway HT is designed to reduce the need for cars and other vehicles with combustion engines. This could produce some profound environmental changes -both in the long and short term. Note the examples mentioned below cover only the U.S., whose automobiles consume about 15% of the world's oil (In 1996, new car sales in Asia alone exceeded those of North America and Western Europe combined).

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Lille, France's Oxygene Station where tourists and locals alike can rent zero-emission vehicles to get around town.
Click a photo to load a virtual fly-by movie tour (644 KB file)

SAVE THE WORLD: American drivers take approximately 900 million car trips per day. The EPA estimates that half of all those trips are less than five miles (8 km) long and transport only one passenger -trips perfectly suited to Segway HT. If just 10% of those trips in cars were replaced with the HT, that would save 6.2 million gallons (23.56 million liters) consumed per day and that would translate into a huge reduction in vehicle emissions: 405 tons of hydrocarbons, 61,830 tons of CO2, 3,105 tons of CO, and 6.2 million gallons of uncombusted gasoline. What's more, this is a conservative estimate which gets much larger based on the fact that each 1% reduction in urban miles driven results in a 2% to 4% reduction in vehicle emissions, due to the inefficient nature of urban driving.

SAVE MONEY: The added mobility that the Segway HT brings to people's lives can also generate economic benefits for many of them. Take a look at what owning one less car -or just taking fewer car trips -could do for your budget. If a car is used for one less five-mile (8 km) trip per day, that's 1,825 fewer miles (2,920 km) driven in a year. Since shorter trips cause more stress on engines, using the Segway HT instead of driving on these trips could save US$.36 per mile per car, or about US$1,300 per year for the typical two-car household. This doesn't include car maintenance fees, insurance, parking, registration, and repairs etc and that if you use your car less, it lasts longer and you don't have to buy a new one as soon (learn more here).

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-July 27, 1999 - Renowned inventor Dean Kamen founded a new company with the vision to develop highly-efficient, zero-emission transportation solutions using dynamic stabilization technology. The company's research and development was focused on creating devices that took up a minimal amount of space, were extremely maneuverable and could operate on pedestrian sidewalks and pathways. The first employees of the company that would become Segway Inc. came from Dean Kamen's company, DEKA Research and Development Corp.
-February 2001 - The Company broke ground for its manufacturing plant in Bedford, New Hampshire.
-November 2001 - Construction of the Segway manufacturing and assembly plant was completed.
-December 1, 2001 - The Company adopted the name Segway LLC. (It was previously known as Acros LLC.)
-December 3, 2001 - Segway unveiled the Segway Human Transporter (HT), the first self-balancing transportation device, to the public for the first time on the ABC Good Morning America Television Program with Charlie Gibson and Diane Sawyer. Segway LLC began taking orders from commercial customers for Segway HTs (i167s) initially priced at $8000 each.
-January 2002 - The first pre-production Segway HTs were produced.
-February 15, 2002 - The first state bill allowing Electric Personal Assistive Mobility Devices (EPAMDs) to operate on sidewalks is signed into law in the Company's home state of New Hampshire. Within the year, a total of 31 states passed laws allowing the Segway HT to operate on sidewalks.
-March 21, 2002 - The first production model of the Segway HT i167 (serial number 022111000001) and a commemorative birth certificate were presented to Dean Kamen, chairman and founder of Segway Inc.
-March 29, 2002 -Segway Inc. auctioned three limited edition Segway HTs on Amazon.com to benefit FIRST (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology), a non-profit organization founded by Dean Kamen. The auction generated a combined total of $364,800.00 for FIRST and drew more than 500 bids from across the country. Segway HT #1 sold for $160,100, Segway #2 for $104,100, and Segway #3 for $100,600.
-November 18, 2002 - Segway Human Transporters went on sale to the public for the first time on Amazon.com. The company hosted an Early Delivery Essay Contest and 30 lucky winners received their Segway HTs before the holiday gift-giving season, a tour of Segway Inc. headquarters and dinner with Dean Kamen.
-February 28, 2003 - Segway HTs began shipping to Amazon.com customers.

Code Name Ginger Book cover WANT TO LEARN MORE? Read a wonderful book "Code Name Ginger" by Steve Kemper (here's an excerpt), watch the "Made In America" TV show when they visit Segway LLC (7 min, 4.7 MB), or watch the "How It's Made" TV show when they build a Segway (5 min, 3.3 MB).

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If you can think of more info that could exist here let me know.
feedback: luckie@msu.edu

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