Friday, August 27, 2004

A Segway Story

Here is the Segway. Here is George Bush on the Segway. Any questions?

The Segway® Human Transporter, a battery-operated upright scooter which its inventors say will revolutionise transportation in the coming oil-lean years, has been spotted on the UR campus.

The Segway was spotted in Kennebunkport, Maine in June. According to a BBC News Online story, "George W Bush has fallen off a Segway - a new stand-on scooter designed to make motorised travel user-friendly. The machine went down when he stepped onto it at his family estate in Kennebunkport." Bush also made headlines this year when he fell off his bicycle in May and in July at his Crawford, Texas ranch. Inner-ear problem?

The Segway will have all sorts of applications, apparently. (Dick Cheney rode one around his Washington office when his Achilles tendon was sore.) When I was teaching 20th century history in 2001-2, a theme I tried to impress upon my students was the militarily-driven origin of a great deal of technological innovation since WWII. The Segway's creator, Dean Kamen, "wants to see US Special Forces troops eventually ride Segways into battle," and one wonders whether the idea of civilian or military application came first in the inventor's mind.