Segway Centaur

By on October 12, 2004

segwaycentaur.jpg

Popular Science has an article online about a new concept vehicle that Segway is showing off; the Centaur.

Concept Centaur combines proprietary dynamic stabilization technology with advanced propulsion and suspension systems, and an intuitive user interface to create a unique four-wheel device that is easily controllable on two or four wheels. Its full suspension and aggressive rider positioning provide an exhilarating ride for one or two people while maintaining control over a variety of terrain. Its rugged performance, zero emissions, and quiet operation make it a good low-impact way to explore the world. Its power and versatility make it suitable for a variety of indoor and outdoor recreational and commercial applications.

It looks like an anorexic offroad four-wheeler, but has all the workings of a standard Segway HT and then some. Through Segway magic you can make the thing stand up on its rear wheels for as long as you like, and the fly-by-wire steering allows you to even steer the thing with the front end in the air. I guess the wheelie trick is intended to get the thing over and around obstacles, but I’m thinking the sheer cool factor of it will be the big draw.

This got me thinking; if the Segway dynamic stabilization can help control the forward/backward pitch of a vehicle like this, couldn’t it also be used to control the side to side pitch of a two-wheeled vehicle? Going a little further, combining the forward/backward and side to side dynamic stabilization would make for a great motorcycle; one that wouldn’t crash unless you were really trying. They’ve probably already thought of that.

Let’s face it; as great as the standard Segway HT is, seeing someone zip around on one… they just look a little goofy. The Centuar, however, looks like a badass ride from the future. Too bad its just a concept at this point. I think it’d sell like crazy.

Gadgetopia

Comments

  1. AFAIK, the Segway and the Centaur stay upright by continuously varying the speed of the wheels. If you lean too far forward, it will speed up, and if you lean too far backward, it will slow down. The mechanics always strive to keep the axle underneath your centre of gravity. This wouldn’t work with a motorcycle because it has no way of shifting itself from side to side – only back to front. Perhaps if the motorcycle were built on some kind of articulating frame that allowed it to bend sideways, it would work.

  2. Wow…I guess the original Segway had such massively broad appeal, and saturated this mass-market so quickly, that they are going after niche markets now.

    It looks like a VERY entertaining toy to dink around on, but not many people are going to spend even more money than a standard Segway on a plaything. Outside of very small niches, I don’t see how this thing will be practical for anything. Why would somebody buy one of these vs. a real ATV? Real ATV’s are both fun and practical.

  3. Come on, there are tons of uses for an intelligent four-wheel ATV that can rare up on two wheels! Didn’t you ever watch SpeedBuggy?

  4. Segway gaining favor with wheelchair users. Major drawbacks to wheelchairs include lousy mobility – and the world is set up for full height adults, not 3-1/2 ‘ tall folks. One quickly learns that people treat you with pity – or just dismiss you – when they literally look down on you. You’re shorter than I am, so you don’t matter. Segway puts one a good head taller than normal, making up for years of seeing others’ bums. This new version sounds like it might climb stairs and hop curbs, then rear up to put the rider eye to eye with other adults. By the way, motorcycles (and bicycles) can be made to lean side to side by simply pushing the handlebar away from you. While riding, push the right bar and the bike immediately leans to the right. Get ready becasue you’ll then lean yourself to the right and the bike will steer hard right in a split second. Regular bike and motorcycle steering is actually accomplished by shifting one’s weight. This may sound impossible, but just try it on your bicycle, you’ll see. Counter-steering is a common technique in motorcycle riding and racing when a sharp curve at high speed requires much faster than normal change of direction.

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