It’s what carmakers, particularly the Japanese, have for years been teasing and bringing out. Basically, this involves motorized contraptions meant to serve as personal transportations, gizmos on (or in) which people can wheel themselves around instead of using their own feet. These things range from single-seat micro-cars to fancy unicycles to glamorized powered wheelchairs. Any trip to a Tokyo Motor Show over the last decade attested to carmakers’ apparent intent in putting these personal mobility thingies out for mainstream use.
Segway, however, has long ago beaten the world’s top car brands to the punch. Since 2001 the US company has been peddling its two-wheel mechanized contraptions, which magically respond to their users’ movements, as personal transportation devices.
How do they work? If their users lean forward, they move forward. To slow them down, brake or reverse, users need only to shift their weight to the back. Make them turn? Then lean these things over to one side. Yes, they seem to move through the power of human intuition as much as they do from lithium-ion batteries. They truly function as “personal mobility” contraptions.
Segway Phils., since 2012, has been pitching the concept of personal mobility, too. The country’s distributor has already sold around 150 variants of the Segway, and has recently started to kick things up a notch—maybe two—by promoting the varied functions that Segways can be useful at.
Two of these functions are for security patrolling and for “walking” tours. Segways are now being used by security guards at some Ayala-owned malls, and the brand’s numerous variants are proving to be ideal transport solutions in a number of theme parks, golf courses and resorts, as well as in corporate offices. Segway Phils. bared that among their clients are The Mind Museum, 7 Stones Boracay Suites, Misibis Bay Raintree, Plantation Bay Spa and Resort, Toby’s Sports, Nature’s Spring, San Miguel Corp. and Kia Motors. The company is also now providing Segways for tours in Enhanted Kingdom and Boracay, and is hoping to offer the same in Intramuros, Luneta and Rizal Park.
Last week, Segway Phils. held an official ceremony in which it turned over a Segway unit kitted out for patrolling duties to the management of Bonifacio Global City—a location also eyed to hold Segway walking tours, especially around areas where outdoor sculptures are exhibited.
“Segway works with commercial and municipal organizations to realize the benefits of zero-emission personal transportations that increase productivity and utilize existing infrastructure,” said George Apacible, chief operating officer of Segway Phils.
The company can pitch Segways for a variety of uses because it has in its stable several models and variants. Segway Phils. offers the i2 and x2 Personal Transporters, which have different variants between them. The i2, the smaller of the pair, can fit through doors and inside elevators, making them handy in mall-patrolling or “strolling.” Segway Phils. said the i2 has an average range of about 38 kilometers.
The x2 is kitted out with all-terrain tires, which make it ideal for resort and golf course duty. With a full charge, it can travel up to 19 kilometers.
Both models can be fitted with accessories and other equipment—luggage compartments, lights, body fairings, etc.—to serve specific purposes. Depending on what’s attached to them, the i2 and x2 can reach speeds of 20kph. And because the Segways do not have tailpipe emissions and produce only a soft whine, these can be used indoors or outdoors, making them convenient alternatives to walking.
Which, basically, is the idea behind personal mobility.