Segway PT

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The Segway PT is a two-wheeled, self-balancing electric vehicle invented by Dean Kamen. It is produced by Segway Inc. of New Hampshire, USA. The name "Segway" is a homophone of "segue" (a smooth transition, literally Italian for "follows") while "PT" denotes personal transporter.

Computers and motors in the base of the device keep the Segway PT upright when powered on with balancing enabled. Users lean forward to go forward, lean back to go backward, and turn by using a "Lean Steer" handlebar, leaning it left or right. Segway PTs are driven by electric motors at up to 12.5 miles per hour (20.1 km/h). Gyroscopic sensors are used to detect tilting of the device which indicates a departure from perfect balance. Motors driving the wheels are commanded as needed to bring the PT back into balance.

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Technology

The dynamics of the Segway PT are identical to a classic control problem, the inverted pendulum. The Segway PT (PT is an initialism for personal transporter while the old suffix HT was an initialism for human transporter) has electric motors powered by Valence Technology phosphate-based lithium-ion batteries which can be charged from household current. It balances with the help of dual computers running proprietary software, two tilt sensors, and five gyroscopes (the gyroscopes do not affect the balance; they are merely used as sensors). The servo drive motors rotate the wheels forwards or backwards as needed for balance or propulsion. The rider changes acceleration by leaning forward or backwards in the direction he or she wishes to travel. On older models, steering is controlled by a twist grip on the left handlebar, which simply varies the speeds between the two motors, rotating the Segway PT (a decrease in the speed of the left wheel would turn the Segway PT to the left). Newer models enable the use of "leaning" to steer as well as move forwards or backwards.

The Segway PT is built to stay balanced in one place. Designed to mirror the process of human walking, if the rider standing on an initially balanced Segway PT leans forward, therefore upsetting the balance, the PT moves forward to regain balance just as in walking a leg moves forward to retain balance. With the Segway PT, changes from a balanced status are first detected by the gyroscopes, and signals are passed on to the onboard computers which then direct motors to regain balance. This process occurs about 100 times per second, so small adjustments to maintain balance occur almost immediately after the balance is upset by the rider.[1]

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