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An old hat, but I'm wearing it for the first time: Segway 
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Joined: Wed Oct 08, 2014 5:30 am
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Post An old hat, but I'm wearing it for the first time: Segway
I was very surprised when re-reading "The roads must roll" not too long ago (it's been a while since I read it before that) and I came across the description of the tumble-bugs... except for them having only one center wheel vs. the two side-mounted ones of the Segways, they seem to be pretty much the same thing. Looking at those similarities, I was not sure if this was more of a prediction or an actual invention made by Heinlein - though I'm leaning towards "prediction" now: it's simply the smallest design you can come up with for a person to ride more or less safely - a platform to stand on, a handle to hold on, and some stuff underneath/around to make it go (to house the engine/power source). Personal mobility can not really get much smaller than that - imagine how today's cities would look if all trips not requiring a roof and/or storage were done on those little critters :-)


Wed Oct 08, 2014 4:27 pm
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Post Re: An old hat, but I'm wearing it for the first time: Segwa
Oliver wrote:
...it's simply the smallest design you can come up with for a person to ride more or less safely - a platform to stand on, a handle to hold on, and some stuff underneath/around to make it go (to house the engine/power source). Personal mobility can not really get much smaller than that - imagine how today's cities would look if all trips not requiring a roof and/or storage were done on those little critters :-)
Intriguing thought. But as for "how much smaller can personal mobility get?" —allow me to quote a passage from the 1911 novel Ralph 124C 41+, a sterling specimen of the infodumps for which Hugo Gernsback is so well known, in which Ralph introduces Alice to New York's chief means of transportation:
Quote:
In reality they were Tele-motor-coasters. They were made of alomagnesium and each weighed only about one and one-half pounds. Each had three small, rubber-covered wheels, one in front and two in the rear. Between the wheels was a small electric motor — about the size of a lemon; this motor could only be operated by high frequency currents and, despite its small size, could deliver about one-quarter horsepower. Ralph explained the coasters and their use to his companion; and after they had put them on by means of an ingenious clutch, whereby the coaster could be snapped onto the shoe in less than five seconds, they both went out into the street. From each coaster a thin insulated wire led up the wearer's back to the hat or cap. Here it was attached to the collector, which was a stiff pin about eight inches long, projecting half-way out from the hat or cap. This pin sucked up, as it were, the high frequency electricity and carried it to the small motors, which latter propelled the coaster. To control the speed of the motor, one simply lifted up the front part of the coaster; this not only cut off the current, but automatically braked the two rear wheels.

[...]

"As a matter of fact, the Tele-motor-coasters would not be possible were it not for the metallic streets. The flat spring which trails on the street between the two rear wheels must make continuous contact with the metallic 'ground,' else the current cannot flow."

"But where does the current come from?" asked the girl.

"You have perhaps noticed already the white slender posts at the edge of the sidewalk, and on their tops umbrella-like insulators which carry a thick spiked wire. This wire, as you see, is about fifteen feet above the curb and carries the high frequency current which not only supplies our coasters with power, by way of our needle collectors, but also propels all the vehicles which you see gliding so noiselessly."
Now, that's pretty small!

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Thu Oct 09, 2014 9:22 am
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Post Re: An old hat, but I'm wearing it for the first time: Segwa
Reminds me of the Losians in COTG.


Thu Oct 09, 2014 2:07 pm
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Post Re: An old hat, but I'm wearing it for the first time: Segwa
For a single wheel version of the Segway, see http://www.everychina.com/p-z52dd6d9-96 ... orter.html and also http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencetech/ ... -want.html. The first one is in production and is pretty darn small.


Thu Oct 09, 2014 5:20 pm
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