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What is a Segway?


The Segway is the first of its kind — a self-balancing personal transportation machine designed to go anywhere. With its innovative technology, the Segway carries you across most terrains noiselessly and efficiently while producing no adverse environmental emissions. It's easy and fun to operate. All you have to do is lean in the direction you want to go, and your Segway takes you there. And don't worry, it takes care of the balancing-on-two-wheels part.


The Segway is a two wheeled, self-balancing electric vehicle invented by Dean Kamen. It is produced by Segway Inc. of New Hampshire, USA. 


Computers and motors in the base of the device keep the Segway upright when powered on with balancing enabled. Users lean forward to go forward, lean back to go backward, and turn by using a "Lean Steer" handlebar, leaning it left or right. Segways are driven by electric servos at up to 20 kilometres per hour. Gyroscopic sensors are used to detect tilting of the device, which indicates a departure from perfect balance. Motors driving the wheels are commanded as needed to bring the Segway back into balance.


Segway Technology


The dynamics of the Segway are identical to a classic control problem, the inverted pendulum. The Segway has electric servos powered by Valence Technology phosphate based lithium-ion batteries which can be charged from household current. It balances with the help of dual computers running proprietary software, two tilt sensors, and five gyroscopes (the gyroscopes do not affect the balance; they are merely used as sensors). The servos rotate the wheels forwards or backwards as needed for balance or propulsion. The rider accelerates or decelerates by simply leaning forward or backwards in the direction he or she wishes to travel. Segway 'gliding' is quick and natural to learn.


The Segway is built to stay balanced in one place. Designed to mirror the process of human walking, if the rider standing on an initially balanced Segway leans forward, therefore upsetting the balance, then moves forward to regain balance just as in walking a leg moves forward to retain balance. With the Segway, changes from a balanced status are first detected by the gyroscopes, and signals are passed on to the on board computers, which then direct motors to regain balance. This process occurs about 100 times per second, so small adjustments to maintain balance occur almost immediately after the balance is upset by the rider.


The side effect of this balancing system is that as the Segway balances itself the entire unit changes position in the direction it has moved to restore balance. (For example, if the rider leans forward, the entire Segway will move forward from its original position, until the rider restores an upright position on the unit.) This is precisely how the Segway is controlled — the balancing and movement is essentially one combined system.


The Segway features a governor (speed limiting) mechanism. When the Segway approaches the maximum speed allowed by the software, it intentionally begins to tilt slightly backwards. This moves the platform out in front, and leans the handlebars backwards towards the rider, eventually nudging the rider to lean back slightly and slow the Segway down. If not for the governor, riders would be able to lean farther than the motor could ever compensate for. The Segway also slows or stops immediately if the handlebar of the unit (or forward bag) nudges into any obstacle.


The Segway is an extrememly safe device. Whitsunday Segway Tours takes safety seriously. For more information about Segway Safety visit our safety page. 


Segway Specs

  • Weight               50 kg

  • Max Speed         12 kmh* (as per QLD legislation)

  • Range                Up to 60 km

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