Segway - Still Off-balance?

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Case Details:

Case Code : MKTG125
Case Length : 17 Pages
Period : 2001-2005
Organization : -
Pub Date : 2006
Teaching Note :Not Available
Countries : US
Industry : Automobile

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The Segway HT -What is it?

The Segway HT was a two-wheeled device that looked something like a lawn mower (Refer Exhibit I for a photograph of the Segway HT), with a platform for the rider to stand on. It had no accelerator or brakes - instead, sophisticated electronics made the machine responsive to the body position of the rider. If the rider leaned forward, the Segway HT moved forward.

To slow down or stop the device, he had to lean backwards. The device moved backwards if the rider leaned still further back. The rider could steer right or left by turning a handgrip clockwise or counterclockwise. Gyroscopes and tilt sensors tracked the rider's position and movements, and allowed him to control the machine.

The Segway HT came with three keys -a black key that limited the speed to 6 miles per hour (could be considered as the “training wheel” mode), a yellow key that limited the speed of the device to 9 miles per hour, and finally a red key which enabled the 'open environment' mode where the device could move at 12.5 miles per hour.

Although the company claimed that the device was user-friendly, it did require some training to handle it. The user had to practice on a variety of surfaces - uneven pavement, sand, gravel, and even puddles, before he could feel confident. "It takes a while to learn. You can learn the basic operation in just a few minutes, but you need practice to really know how to use it on the sidewalk, how to mix with the pedestrian flow, how to handle curbs and driveway cuts," said Tom Weyandt, Director of Comprehensive Planning, Atlanta Regional Commission and a Segway HT user.

The Segway HT was also described by the company as extremely safe, thanks to its sophisticated electronics, and redundant electrical and mechanical systems. Many of its important components had at least one backup substitute. For example there were two rechargeable batteries, five gyros, two motors (each with two sets of windings), two controller boards, and a frame that could bear up to seven tons of force. The machine was tested and retested in extreme temperature variations, in water and in snow, in high humidity, salt and dust contact, and UV exposure. “The track record of the machine in the field has been absolutely spectacular. We have tens and thousands of hours (riding) the machines...,” said Doug Field, Vice President (Product Development), Segway...

Excerpts >>

3] Marsha Walton, "Months after the Hype: Is Segway Still It?", September 12, 2002.

4] "Make Way for the Segway,"

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