Saturday, November 12, 2005

Two Wheels Good

Tetherd Cow Ahead Advisory: Geek Alert! Yabbering about pointless fun with technology follows...

My friend Simon was given, as a birthday present from his partner Kerry, some tickets for a tour of the Sydney Olympic Park on Segways. Simon was kind enough to invite a couple of us along with him this morning for some geek fun.

The Segway tour of the park consists of a brief training session and then a fairly lengthy ride (or maybe I should say 'roll' because it is most unlike riding) around some of the facilities and gardens.

Here is Simon getting his balance:



It really doesn't take long to get the hang of these uncanny devices. Two motors, one in each wheel, are controlled by microprocessors which constantly calculate the centre of gravity of the rider. To go forward you simply shift your centre of gravity forward; to go back, just transfer it back. When you first climb on, there is momentary hesitation because it's certainly not intuitive to just lean forward without thinking you'll fall flat on your face. But it takes only a couple of minutes to get the hang of the thing and it soon feels very natural.

I expected riding on a Segway would be cool. I didn't expect it to be quite as cool as it was. The Segways are very responsive and the motors deliver serious torque. You can roll forwards and backwards, spin in tight circles, go up and down fairly steep grades and travel mostly anywhere a person could walk (even through doorways, which we did).



It wasn't so much a tour as a bunch of nerds tooling around on a hi-tech toy. And didn't we love every minute of it.

I'd like to believe that the Segway was going to revolutionize personalized transport, but I have to say I think, for the moment anyway, that its appeal is generally one of the oddness of controlling a vehicle by what almost feels like mental power. Because you don't actually do anything, except shift your weight slightly, it seems just like you're moving by simply thinking about it. It's a real buzz. As a two-wheeled device for efficiently and quickly traversing the city with a low environmental impact, though... well, we already have one of those. It's called a bicycle.

One of the surprises of the morning was to discover that Simple Graphics Man, ever the intrepid adventurer, had already been there ahead of us. As we have come to expect, his experience was not uneventful...



At least he was sensible enough to wear a helmet this time.

17 comments:

Blogger jedimacfan said...

I've always wanted to try one of those. I saw them in person at Disneyworld a couple years ago. They have rovers in the parking lots using them to direct traffic where to park.

They look like they're fun. And I imagine that Segwaying (can it take a verb form?) across Australia is a blast. After all, You never know what you may see.

November 12, 2005 5:49 PM  
Blogger Radioactive Jam said...

I take back all my derisive Segway-rider thoughts, which were of course formed from ignorance. On at least two levels, yes.

SGM is the ultimate stunt-man. Did anyone try the depicted moves during your tour?

November 13, 2005 1:01 AM  
Blogger Radioactive Jam said...

Oops, forgot. jedimacfan - that link? Nice touch.

November 13, 2005 1:02 AM  
Blogger Chickie said...

That SGM really gets around. He must have a big inheritance to live off of while he travels. So very unlucky though.

Jedimacfan - The link is quite amusing :)

November 13, 2005 2:04 AM  
Blogger r.fuel said...

I saw a lady riding one about a week ago. She made me angry because she was tooling along at about 5 miles an hour down the middle of the right lane of a considerably busy street. I admit that I'm a bit of an impatient driver, but it was ridiculous. She was causing some pretty serious congestion. I can't imagine that they were meant to be road vehicles...

November 13, 2005 8:48 AM  
Anonymous anne arkham said...

The helmet didn't keep him from losing his feet.

November 13, 2005 3:27 PM  
Blogger jedimacfan said...

The SGM sign for the Segway was actually created from real life events.

November 13, 2005 3:33 PM  
Blogger Alex said...

Ooh, I'm so jealous... sounds so cool.

You always make me laugh, especially when SGM comes into it. Honestly, he must have more lives than a cat.

November 13, 2005 6:09 PM  
Blogger anaglyph said...

jedimacfan: Kangaroos might have difficulty with a Segway - lots of serious jumping motion doesn't really get you anywhere...

RaJ: The depicted moves were avoided although new ones were discovered. SGM doesn't have a monopoly on klutziness.

Anne Arkham: Oh yeah. I forgot to talk about the severed feet problem. How else do you think they're gonna sell millions of Segways...?

I'd better just hobble off now...

November 13, 2005 8:44 PM  
Blogger Radioactive Jam said...

"Hobble off..."? *understanding* Curse you Dean Kamen! Curse you AND your expensive prosthetic feet!

Just noticed the changing subtitles. Very cool!

November 14, 2005 1:13 AM  
Blogger jedimacfan said...

anaglyph: Kangaroos might have difficulty with a Segway - lots of serious jumping motion doesn't really get you anywhere...

See it wouldn't have to jump if it were on a Segway. Plus, even if the Kangaroo did in fact fall, he has that soft, cow-covered hat to help protect his head.

The "Two Wheels Good" reminded me of Animal Farm which gave me the idea. And I'm sorry it wasn't a cow, but there just aren't too many photos of cows in the upright position.

November 14, 2005 2:21 AM  
Blogger Joe Fuel said...

I wonder if SGM has some awesome health insurance. After all, he always seems to find a way to hurt himself so he can warn us about it later. Poor guy...

November 14, 2005 2:52 AM  
Blogger anaglyph said...

Jam: The mechanism that randomly changes the sub-headings is cool. The mechanism that comes up with new catchy sub-headings needs an overhaul. Ideas welcome. Maybe I'll run a competition...

jedimacfan: Cows have some trouble with Segways because of that. Mr Kamen is working on a four-wheeled gadget that may have some utility in this respect. It will also allow a cow to stand upright, which could be a fearsome prospect.

Joe: SGM is very dedicated. I hope you are all considering what you're getting him for Christmas.

WVS: gzxxlut. I believe this to be a kind of greedy alien hooker.

November 14, 2005 7:31 AM  
Anonymous Cissy Strutt said...

competition entry: "news from a warm meat parcel"

November 14, 2005 3:11 PM  
Anonymous Cissy Strutt said...

how about "moosings"

November 14, 2005 5:54 PM  
Blogger Alex said...

I was thinking a hard hat would be good.

November 14, 2005 8:44 PM  
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January 05, 2006 12:18 PM  

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