September 27, 2003


All Segways recalled (AP, 9/26/2003)

Segway scooters, touted as almost untippable when unveiled two years ago, are being recalled. It turns out they don't work so well when the batteries get low - riders have fallen off and been injured.

The Consumer Product Safety Commission announced the recall Friday of all 6,000 scooters that have been sold, saying three people had been hurt. One suffered a head wound and needed stitches.

Commission spokesman Ken Giles said Segway told the agency about the problem. [...]

The single-rider, two-wheeled Segway Human Transporters can travel up to 12 mph. Costing $4,950 each, they use gyroscopes to keep upright, making them less likely to fall or be knocked over.

But scooters being operated with low battery power may not have enough juice to remain upright when the rider suddenly speeds up or tries to drive over a bump or up an incline.

In a related story, all automobiles are being recalled because of failure to accelerate in traffic when they run out of gas.

Posted by Orrin Judd at September 27, 2003 7:48 AM

Oh, my G-d. Three people got hurt and one needed stitches!

Posted by: David Cohen at September 27, 2003 8:39 AM

After reading the stories yesterday, I came to the conclusion that this was a real problem and the Segway software does need fixing. Those gyroscopes require power to operate properly. The problem seems that there should be a reserve independent of the transport motors to keep the gyroscopes running (a design flaw) which only comes into play because power levels weren't being reported properly. Loss of power to the gyroscopes means loss of stability. The software fix would be to prevent motion once the level drops too low, in effect creating the reserve to keep the gyros going.

To use your analogy, it's not a stupid consumer's fault that they run out of gas in traffic when they discover that the gauge in their new car shows a quarter tank when it should show empty.

Posted by: Raoul Ortega at September 27, 2003 11:51 AM

The fix is even easier--it'll just stop when it runs low enough. But if you get in your pinto and drive 300 miles, you can't be surprised when it runs out of gas, even if there's no gauge. Make that especially if there's no gauge.

Posted by: oj at September 27, 2003 12:04 PM

Is there any doubt that if cars were just being invented today, we would not be allowed to have them?

Posted by: Jerome Howard at September 27, 2003 6:46 PM

Obvious engineering solution: Power the Segway v. 2.0 with a small gasoline engine as found in numerous obnoxious, loud, smelly, environmentally incorrect items from leaf-blowers to Harleys. Gets around the problem mentioned and will contribute to OJ's drive to make New Hampshire's climate resemble Florida's.

Posted by: Random Lawyer at September 27, 2003 7:13 PM

If bicycles were new, they'd be banned.

Posted by: Mike Earl at September 27, 2003 8:00 PM