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TEST RIDE: SEGWAY LEADWAY

Segway-0183Anything with wheels and capacity for propulsion over land tickles our fancy, even this peculiar scooter like contraption called the Segway. The Segway is a two wheel, self-balancing, battery powered electric vehicle and is the newest thing on wheels to come into Nepal. We’re not the most environmentally conscious bunch, because we prefer our machines to take us from a dead stop to past the speed limit in under 10 seconds. However, that means that we will have to pay our dues to Mother Nature eventually.

News of the Segway making its way to Nepal was the perfect opportunity for us to repent to the environmental gods as well as cut down on our carbon footprint. After briefly contemplating over and deciding against the idea of dressing up as an American Mall cop, we headed to the new building of Auto Land in Teku to try out the electric transporter.

Segway-0251This Segway wasn’t your regular Segway, it was a Leadway. A product of Shenzhen Rilla group, the Leadway is the self-balancing scooter that has two models: Namely off road and urban model. We were handed the urban version which was smaller in size and looked less robust.

Segway-0342There doesn’t seem to be a lot going on with the Leadway and seemed simple enough to control. The base between the two wheels had a simple solitary switch that turned on the machine and a green lit display showed the battery level. Not too intimidated by the appearance, we casually got on it to go for a spin. It turns out it isn’t as simple as it appears to look. Although it is a “self-balancing” scooter, finding our bearings on the Leadway took a few minutes; the first of which we were violently teetering atop it like a creatine infused drunkard.

Segway-0335Once we settled in, it was just a matter of leaning forward or backwards and shifting the handle to change direction. Soon enough, we were awed by the technology that balanced the upright scooter and made it possible to maneuver it around. The creator (Dean Kamen) had the human body in mind when this was designed.

Segway-0336If a person stands up and leans forward to a certain extent, his brain knows he is out of balance because fluid in the inner ear shifts. This triggers him to put his leg forward and stop the fall. If he keeps leaning forward, his brain will keep putting his legs forward to keep him upright. Instead of falling, the person walks forward, one step at a time.

Segway-0337The Leadway does pretty much the same thing, except it has wheels instead of legs, a motor instead of muscles, a collection of microprocessors instead of a brain and a set of sophisticated tilt sensors instead of an inner-ear balancing system. Like the brain, the Leadway knows when you are leaning forward. To maintain balance, it turns the wheels at just the right speed, so you move forward. The amplitude of turning of two-wheeled balanced scooter is calculated automatically according to the speed, the higher the speed, the smaller the amplitude will be which ensures safety. Nevertheless, try to make a sharp turn at higher speeds and your heart will jump into your throat as you lose balance momentarily.

Segway-0283Before we knew it, we were actually having fun on this electric mechanism on wheels. It didn’t go really fast, but it made up for it with its uniqueness. However, rough roads aren’t its foray and you will feel the lack of suspension. On the shiny tiles of the new AutoLand building though, it seemed right at home.

Segway-0305That brings us to the practicality of this machine. The Urban model of the Leadway is the ideal partner for the patrolman, duty guards and security personnel that need patrolling back and forth within large spaces. It is also suitable for government office buildings, Science Park, large scale enterprises and factories, hospitals as well as the airport, large exhibition halls, entertainment venues and other large parks. As Mr. Lok Rajbhandari, suggested its utility in locations such as Lumbini could be useful.

It might not be the most functional product out there, but it sure is a fun thing to ride. Best of all, it is extremely environment friendly. Glad to have done our part in saving the planet, we now wait till we see it in Bhatbhateni and Lumbini.

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