Segway is back at it again. The company has a history of turning heads with its quirky, electricity-powered transportation devices. Nearly 20 years after the release of the first Personal Transporter (PT) model, it appears Segway has more up its sleeve.
The company’s new S-Pod transporter looks like a stroller for adults. The device self-balances on two wheels when in motion. When stopped, the S-Pod sets down on a smaller third wheel so that passengers can board easily. Users move the S-Pod with a navigation panel and control knob, which shifts the transporter’s center of gravity to move forwards and backwards.
The S-Pod has an anticipated range of 44 miles and can reach up to 25 mph. The transporter is designed for commercial use on closed campuses, like airports or theme parks. Despite not being able to hover, Segway’s new chair is the closest thing we’ve ever seen to the reality depicted in Pixar’s WALL-E.
Too Revolutionary for its Time
Dean Kamen founded Segway back in 2001. He dreamed of changing short-distance transportation with electric-powered devices designed for individual passengers. With the help of the brilliant engineer, Doug Field, the original Segway PT was born. Unfortunately, the public didn’t take the self-balancing scooter seriously.
Roger Brown purchased the company in 2013 in the wake of a massive fallout. Many of Segway’s best engineers had left, and the VCs who funded much of the early R&D had moved on to other projects. With several smart hires and strategic changes, Brown turned Segway around for a brief, profitable period. He sold the company in 2015 to the Chinese firm, Ninebot, which has since expanded the product portfolio dramatically.
Ninebot introduced Segway scooters shortly after and helped usher in the Golden Age of urban electric transportation. Although no longer in the picture, the Segway founding team is thrilled that its original vision is finally coming to life. Former lead engineer Field said, “We knew this was the way future transportation products would work. Anyone standing on something that’s powered by electricity and a computer is a Segway descendant.”
What Segway is Doing Today
Today, Segway offers a slew of electric scooters and powersports products. As companies like Bird and Lime have reached billion-dollar valuations with the ridesharing model, Segway has quietly sold more than a million scooters to 100 cities around the world.
The company also sells a slick Gokart kit, a robot sidekick, and a dirt eBike for commercial use. On the powersports front, Segway sells ATVs, SSVs, and UTVs. There is also a Robotics division that focuses on AI-based mobility. Additionally, with a series of delivery bots, Segway is trying to bring smart logistics solutions to the market.
With these new products, we’re standing by to see if Segway can reinvent itself and win the public back over. There is a clear market for eScooters and powersports vehicles. However, the Segway PT did some serious damage to the brand’s image right out of the gate. It’s unclear if the world will embrace the S-Pod yet or if it will play a lead role in a future Mall Cop sequel.