Kamen’s Personal Transportation Device

By Amy Harmon
New York Times Online

The mystery transportation device being developed by the award-winning inventor Dean Kamen—the subject of continuous fevered speculation since provocative clues and predictions surfaced in media reports last January—is not hydrogen- powered, a favored theory in Internet discussions. Nor does it run on a superefficient Stirling engine (yet).

But if the public’s collective yearning for Jetsonian travel technology must remain unrequited this week, at least the speculators will have their curiosity satisfied.

Mr. Kamen plans to demonstrate today a two-wheeled battery-powered device designed for a single standing rider. Its chief novelty lies in the uncanny effect, produced by a finely tuned gyroscopic balancing mechanism, of intuiting where its rider wants to go—and going there.

The device, the Segway Human Transporter, better known by its former code- name, Ginger, can go up to 12 miles an hour and has no brakes. Its speed and direction are controlled solely by the rider’s shifting weight and a manual turning mechanism on one of the handlebars.

At an average speed of 8 miles an hour, or three times walking pace, Mr. Kamen says the Segway can go 15 miles on a six- hour charge, for less than a dime’s worth of electricity from a standard wall socket.

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