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[DPRG] segway

Subject: [DPRG] segway
From: David P. Anderson dpa at io.isem.smu.edu
Date: Thu Dec 5 01:14:01 CST 2002


Firstly... about a month ago Randy gave me an implementation of Tiny-C for
the Isopod to evaluate, (very exciting!) and in my normal mode of near-criminal
procrastination I put off doing it until my computer finally died and had to be
replaced and I lost the code.  So this is a public apology to Randy for my being
just basically brainless and hoping we can begin that process again... hopefully
with an attention-deficit reduction on my part this time.

Concerning the Segway, rodent wrote:

> Hey DPA -- did you take it off-roading? Just wondering how it deals with
> non-hard surfaces.

Only a little bit, seemed to do fine.  It appears that about 20 degree slope
is all it could handle, so won't replace any dirt-bikes, but fine for handi-
capped access ramps etc.

david p. wrote:

> And Dave.. in the words of Sylvester the cat ... you're dishpicable... I
> wanna play with a Segway! : )

Me too.  They had to take it away from me so the other children had a chance
to play.  However, they made an offer of letting me have it for a day, perhaps
soon.  Can't wait!!!

and chuck wrote:

> This is a common mis-perception. Two wheel, three wheel, or 18 wheel, you 
> have to deal with torque of a vertical human body. The value proposition of 
> the Segway is not about balance, its about inertial mass management.

<lots of good stuff snipped>

"value proposition."  I like the sound of that!  

I think the questions most folks seemed to ask (2 wheel vs three, static
vs dynamic, Segway vs. traditional electric scooters, bicycles, walking)
had not so much to do with the physics of the technology, but rather with
the broader question of human transport.  Given that the Segway is a very
cool way to solve the problem of getting from A to B, but there are other,
cheaper, ways of solving the same problem (getting from A to B).

And it's not clear that sophisticated inertial mass management is enough of
an advantage to make up for the huge difference in cost.  For that matter,
as someone already pointed out, our legs/feet/inner-ears are also pretty darn 
good at inertial mass management, for free!   Roller-blades, anyone?  I think
it's going to be a tough sell.  (but I'd buy one in a heartbeat if I had the
cash!  Even if I were relegated to the grocery store parking lot on sunday
morning like the kids with their go-karts.)

I saw Dean Kamen interviewed on "Tech TV" the other night, and he also seemed
a bit defensive about the reception the Segway has gotten.  This may still be
a technology in search of an application.  (robotics...robotics...robotics...)

He should give the DPRG a few to play with...

best regards,

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