US inventor unveils latest city runabout

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The Independent US

The world got its first glimpse of a gadget on wheels that may, or may not, revolutionise the way we move around our cities. It is called the Segway Human Transporter and it looks like one of those old cylinder lawnmowers. But it is for getting to the office, not for cutting grass.

Dean Kamen, an American inventor of some note, unveiled his toy in a New York City park shortly after sunrise – just in time for the breakfast television audience. But after all the fevered speculation, the carefully orchestrated launch was almost a let-down.

Talk that Mr Kamen had come up with something that was going to change the face of human transport and even lead to a redesign of our city centres began a year ago. In the end, however, the Segway – previously know by its codename, Ginger – is really a scooter with a motor on it.

It is, however, highly sophisticated because of its use of microprocessors and super-sensitive gyroscopes. There is no brake or accelerator. Instead, the battery-run scooter responds to the shifting weight of the rider. The heavy-duty model costs £5,700, while a lighter, consumer version, costing about £2,000, will not be available for at least a year.

Unveiled at last,