When we have a first look at Segway board, it appears like a high tech scooter. The looks are not that appealing. However, people who ride it are very happy with their experience. This machine was invented by Dean Kamen and he had very high hopes with it. In his own words, he claimed Segway “will be to the car what the car was to the horse and buggy.” However, Segway has not been that wonderful, but still it is an amazing vehicle giving awesome experience to its riders. As per its inventor, it is the first self balancing personal human transporter.
What is a Segway Board?
Segway board can be defined as self balancing personal transporter that is battery powered, having two wheels. It was invented by Dean Kamen and produced by New Hampshire based company called Segway Inc. in the year 2001. It is also known as Segway PT. The word segway derived from ‘segue’ that means smooth transition and PT is abbreviation for personal transporter.
The base of segway boards are sensors, computers and electric motors that help it to stand upright when its power is on and balancing is enabled. The rider can control the direction and speed by leaning backward or forward. Levelling sensors based on the accelerometer and gyroscopic sensors are used to detect the changes in pitch angle and to help maintain balance when in use.
How segways work
Segway board has two wheels and it appears like a simple hand truck. However, it can stand upright on its own when it is turned on. In order to move segway backward or forward, the user needs to lean slightly backward or forward. If the user wants to turn it right or left, he/she needs to turn right handlebar backward or forward, depending on the direction he/she wants the segway to turn to. The most important thing that is very critical for the operation of segway is its balancing act. Understanding of Kamen’s model for segway is important to understand the working of segways
If a person is leaning forward to the extent that it disturbs his/her balance, it is likely that he/she may fall on the face. However, it does not happen because the human brain can detect when the body is out of balance. The inner ear fluid shifts and it triggers the person to put his/her leg forward preventing the fall. No matter how many times you try leaning forward, your brain will keep sending signals preventing you to fall. What happens is, you keep walking forward instead of falling on your face.
This same logic applies on segways. The difference is that segways have wheels in place of legs, a number of microprocssors act like brain, set of tilt sensors work like inner ear balancing system and motor acts like muscles. Just like the brian informs the body, microprocessors inform the segway board that the rider is leaning forward and it prompts the wheels to turn at right speed, enabling the rider to move forward.
Advantages of segways
This self balancing, two wheeled electric transportation device has become extremely popular among people of all ages. It became successful different niche markets such as military bases, police departments, industrial sites, corporate campuses and warehouses. Some of the advantages of segways are mentioned below:
- Increase in productivity: Segway helps increase productivity if we compare it with walking. The rider can reach his/her destination faster and complete the work faster. Especially, when the work is related to inspection at warehouse, shifting from one place to another etc. moreover, it also helps reduce fatigue associated with walking long distances.
- Better view: one who is riding segway will have better view as he/she will be standing on a platform that is eight inches above the ground. It gives the rider better recognition in the crowd, at the same time allowing a better view to him/her.
- Cost efficient: Balance board segways are extremely cost efficient. No fuel or gas is required for their operation. These are run on rechargeable batteries. The batteries get fully charged in about 8-10 hours.
- Ease to operate: It is the most important advantage of segways that they are easy to operate. It takes a few minutes for new users to get accustomed to how to ride segways and then are then good to go. These are also compact in size so you can carry them anywhere.
- Environment friendly: Segway boards are environment friendly. When in present times, there is lots of pollution being created by vehicles, segways discharge no harmful gas in the environment. It is one of the main reason of their getting popular.
Disadvantages of 2 wheel segways
Segway boards have some disadvantages as well which are mentioned below:
- Segway boards are a slow means of transport. The maximum speed you can achieve while using them is 12.5 mph.
- There is no way to calculate how far it can take people of different masses.
- Segways are heavy in weight that is about 100 lbs that makes it difficult to carry them along.
- Segways will work till the battery lasts, once the battery is completely discharged, there is no way to ride them. You cannot pedal them back home just like bicycles.
- These are expensive products and may be difficult to purchase by the middle class.
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How to ride a balance board segway
Segways can be extremely dangerous if you do not follow the safety guidelines and can harm you as well. You can get injured if you lose control, or if you fall or if there is collision. Therefore you need to be extremely cautious while riding a balance board segway. If you follow all the directions and safety guidelines, segways can prove to be an efficient, safe and clean means of transport. Here are some steps to help you understand how to ride segways in a safe manner:
- The first thing that you should do is read the user manual thoroughly before trying to ride it for the first time. You should also take advice and guidance from someone who know how to ride a segway. You need to first practice in the presence of some experienced person or at least have someone near you when you try to climb and practice for the first time.
- Your clothing should be apt for riding a segway. You must wear proper safety gadgets. At least you must be wearing a helmet. You must use some eye protection. Other safety gadgets include wrist guards, elbow padding, etc. In case you are riding segway at night, make sure you are wearing a high visibility jacket so that others can spot you from a distance. Also, you need to make sure that it is legal to ride a segway during night at the place where you are.
- Always make it a point firmly hold the handlebar all the time while you are riding segway. Do not make the mistake of carrying some stuff in one hand and handle the segway with only one hand, it can make you fall in trouble. If you need to carry some stuff, it is advisable to use backpacks.
- It is a fact that segways are designed to detect the movement of the rider, but always avoid making too abrupt movements. It may get difficult to balance segway in such situation. You should not start or stop segway too fast. Never ride backward on segway, it should be done only under unavoidable situation like turning around. Do not run segway at high speed, especially when you need to take a turn. Turning at high speed can make you lose control over the machine and you can injure yourself.
- Speeding is a big ‘no’ with segways. Segways have an inbuilt speed limiter that guides users if they are exceeding the permissible speed. The speed limiter pushes handlebar back so as to lower the speed of the user. You should always follow this and stop leaning forward any further. Always give space to all passers-by while riding segway.
- Always bear in mind that segways are not meant for all terrains and you should ride them on plain surfaces where you can ride them comfortably. Also, try to avoid abrupt changes in terrain like sudden change from grassy area to pavement or passing on some speed bump. If you have to do this, decrease the speed first and do it slowly. In case you have doubts about proper handling of Segway on a particular terrain, you should step off and use power assist mode. Never try to ride a segway on roads. It can be dangerous as well as illegal too.
- Always make it a point that there should be a safe distance between you and handlebar while you are riding a Segway. Because leaning on handlebar may reduce the rider’s ability to control the device in a proper manner.
- When you are riding a Segway, you are moving at a faster pace as compared to pedestrians. You should always be on high alert for avoiding them on your way. It is also possible that they might not notice you coming towards them so you should be ready to to call out if need be. You should follow all the traffic rules of your area. Usually, in the countries having right side drive, you should keep Segway to the right of footpath and to the right in countries having left side drive. However, pedestrian norms of your area must be considered in this regard.
- You need to be extremely careful of the obstacles when you are riding a Segway. Obstacles can make you fall off the Segway or can cause collision. It is your job to keep an eye on road and be careful of the obstacles coming in your way. However if you are doing sightseeing or are chatting with friends while riding a Segway, it becomes difficult to keep an eye on road. The common hindrances can be light poles, trees, signposts, park benches etc. always avoid curbs, holes, steps while riding Segway as it is likely to trip up such hindrances. Avoid steep slopes while riding Segway as it can cause imbalance and you are likely to fall. You must not ride a Segway on slippery surfaces like ice, wet grass, snow, wet floors, oily or greasy areas. As it is difficult to make balance on such surfaces and there will be high risks of your falling down. Also, avoid riding segways over loose surfaces such as pebbles, broken glass rocks, brances as Segway may lose traction on such surfaces and can cause you to fall.
- Just like riding any vehicle on road like car, bike, scooter or any other means of wheeled transport, you need to stay alert while you are riding a Segway and need to react in advance of happening of things. You should slow the speed of Segway while you are at crossings, around corners, passing through groups of people, intersections, low hanging areas, doorways etc. You can even stop at such places if need be, but make sure that you do not cause any trouble to anyone and you yourself are safe. Keep yourself away from cyclists, cars, bikes and other vehicles as you should assume that not always you can get noticed of heard that you are riding a Segway. It can also happen that people may not consider Segway as something that they should stop for. Never ever drink and drive a Segway. It can be very dangerous. Never use cell phones of MP3 players while riding Segway as it may divert your attention and increase your chances of landing in some accident.
- Make it a point to always stop Segway before stepping out of it. The reason is if you step off the Segway that is still powered on and in balance mode, it will continue moving forward and may collide with something or someone. Hence, stop it first and then get off it.
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