Oh, it has its strong points; for getting somewhere just slightly faster than your legs can carry you, there are few products that compare. Persons with legitimate physical limitations may indeed benefit from this alternative to powered wheelchairs and scooters. And for a brief while, devotees of high-tech gadgets had a field day before the next shiny gizmo with limited long-term usefulness came along.
At one of the first Segway launch parties, they lined up twenty Segways with messengers carrying gift baskets and had them “race” the length of the huge hall where the launch party was held. I think the messenger with a champagne and caviar won. His gift basket container was a beautiful bamboo carrying case with a handle which made carrying the gift basket while steering the segway that much easier. See if you can carry a gift basket while riding one of these. Its a new challenge. After the race there was a raffle where all the gift baskets were raffled off. I was one of the lucky raffle winners. I thoroughly enjoyed my premier wine gift basket with its trio of prestigious wines, smoked salmon, cheese and crackers, large vanilla caramels, peanuts, almond roca, and more. I ended up buying a gift basket for my wife for her birthday, but I never bought a Segway!
What’s Next for Segway?
The best minds of industry have obviously decided that more R&D is called for, more ‘next-year’s prototypes’ must be unveiled, and more money and time must be wasted before we do what the people of our parents’ or grandparents’ generation had sufficient time, money, and motivation to do.
There’s still an apparent connection between Segway and GM, although we haven’t ever seen any promotion of this partnership that I am aware of. But there’s always hope – quite clear that if the demand were there, this product would be in production. Perhaps the recession, fear of spending on new stuff, too geeky, too frail looking, too different – all common excuses or reasons, however your point of view. But the fact is that the world needs products like this. Not exactly like this, but products that can transport us without creating emissions or even fumes, while managing price and size. Puma would make a very cool city car – except the city’s mass transit is kind of dealing with that. Still, we feel that both robotics and small scale transportation are going to converge and become available as a must have product. Although GM and Segway hope that the PUMA would reach the market by 2012 , that date has passed by and you still can’t purchase one. Someday…