Segway Inc.'s Human Transporter (HT) models

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Not a Segway but rather an older sibling of the Segway HT is the
DEKA iBOT (Independence iBOT Mobility Series) black-color (Software/OS 10-14.1)
Announced 6/99, Released 12/03, Currently @iBOT 4000 model

Gallery Commentary
Segway Inc. is based in Bedford, New Hampshire and was founded by inventor and entrepreneur, Dean Kamen, to transform the way people work and live. Although the Segway Human Transporter (HT) may be the Kamen's best-known product that self-balances, it actually was not the first, but rather a spin-off of sorts of another, the iBOT. By the way, he also invented a home dialysis machine, insulin pump, intravascular stent, surgical irrigation pump, and if that wasn't enough he recently introduced a device the size of a washing machine that uses a Stirling engine to generate electricity while purifying river, ocean or polluted water into clean drinking water.

Dean Kamen's inventions always start the same way by looking at a problem, ignoring the conventional thinking that surrounds it, and working tirelessly until it is solved. Before there was a Segway HT, Kamen and the researchers at his company DEKA developed the iBOT, the balancing wheelchair. It can be considered an older brother/sister of the Segway. As the story goes, one day Dean Kamen saw a young man in a wheelchair struggling to get over a curb. He thought about it, and realized that the problem wasn't ineffective wheelchairs, it was that the world was built for people who could balance. So he and his team worked with Johnson & Johnson to create what is now called the Independence iBOT Mobility System, a self-balancing mobility device that enables users to climb stairs and negotiate sand, rocks, and curbs. In 1999 a new company, Independence Technology LLC (http://www.independencenow.com/) was formed to focus on the iBOT and continue development and sales etc. The iBOT was first announced and revealed publicly 6/30/99 on the television show "Dateline NBC."

The iBOT's code name was "Fred" or "Fred Upstairs" for the ability of the balancing and stair-climbing wheelchair to give the user the agility of the famous dancer, Fred Astaire. Like most of his innovations, the iBOT "Fred" reflected Dean's belief that science and engineering can be harnessed to improve people's daily lives. Dean and his team also saw a way for this balancing technology to be applied to the problem of human transportation, brought together a core team to perfect it, and formed a new company (initially called Acros LLC later changed to Segway LLC) to create what would be called the Segway HT. Its code name was "Ginger," for Ginger Rogers, the dancing partner for "Fred."

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Click on an image above to load a movie of the iBOT balancing (7.5 MB file) or climbing stairs (5.9 MB file)

Like the Segway HT, the iBOT contains patented dynamic stabilization (iBALANCE) technology, an integrated combination of sensor and software components and multiple computers that work in conjunction with gyroscopes. Gyroscopes are motion sensors that help maintain balance. When the gyroscopes sense movement, a signal is sent to the computers. The computers process the information and tell the motors how to move the wheels to maintain stability. This electronic balance system is custom-programmed to the user's center of gravity, to monitor and respond to subtle changes in motion. Reach forward to shake hands, and the iBOT moves with you. Lean back and it moves away as well. The iBOT constantly realigns and adjusts its wheel position and seat orientation to keep the user upright and stable at all times, even when driving up and down curbs or inclines. In addition, the iBOT includes built-in triple redundant backup systems, as well as auditory and visual signals to provide even more safety and assurance. With input from the rider or an assistant, in "Stair Function" the iBOT utilizes gyroscopes and adjusts to the driver's center of gravity, climbing stairs by rotating wheels up and over each other. The iBOT can allow riders to stand up to the same eye-level as colleagues. The "Balance Function" of the iBOT can raise the rider to eye level for any number of business or social interactions. It lets the rider see over counters, and reach a high shelf in the office, kitchen or supermarket, safely and easily.

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Elements of the iBOT model vary somewhat between model number 3000 vs 4000 (top image vs. middle ones). In addition, Michelin Tire Company has been testing a new airless tire-wheel combo called the "tweel" (left) that both keeps someone in the iBOT from getting a flat and makes it look even cooler.

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If you can think of more info that could exist here let me know.
feedback: luckie@msu.edu

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