If you believed the hype, the world’s first motorised,
self-balancing scooter was going to revolutionise personal travel when
it was introduced into the UK two years ago.
Segway inventor Dean Kamen wanted it to become a fixture
on traffic-clogged city streets, allowing commuters to "drive" to work
at the civilised speed of 12mph. Great assumptions were made. Mr Kamen
said it would "be to the car what the car was to the horse and buggy".
His vision has yet to be realised. After a flurry of
publicity things have gone pretty quiet and the UK’s commuters are
still jamming themselves into cars, trains, buses and tubes every
No official sales figures are released by Segway but
there are just 30 to 50 of the machines estimated to be in the country,
according to its UK distributor – BAE Systems.
I think these machines are amazing. The problem is they are so expensive and I wonder how practical they are in daily life.
Sure, Segways are ‘green machines’ and certainly could alleviate much of the pressure on our environment caused by pollution but with the prices as they are, they are beyond the reach of most people. One of the difficulties which Segway would be well advised to consider is the following:
The success of the Segway could come down to the market it is pitched at, according to Ed Griffiths, designer with product design company JEDCo.
He says a two-wheeled scooter that is used on the pavement and goes at 12mph is being pitched as an alternative to walking.
"But walking is free, natural and we all know how to do it, so why pay thousands for a Segway?" he says. "And if you don’t want to walk why not get a bike, again it’s much cheaper. The Segway doesn’t seem to have massive practical benefits over other products or our own legs.
This may be one of those technologies that will take a little while to penetrate the mainstream market. The European market alone is growing quite rapidly. Watch this space.