Bernard Favre is the Fellow Presans in charge of mobility. Open-organization.com published his views on human/machine interactions in December. Here is his answer when, a few months later, I asked him what he retained from the past decade in terms of excellence and impertinence.
BERNARD FAVRE TELLS US ABOUT DEAN KAMEN, INVENTOR OF THE SEGWAY
“I attended a congress on intelligent transportation in the United States between 2000 and 2005, when Dean Kamen, the inventor of the Segway, demonstrated his product on the tiny 2-metre-high stage of the convention hall. He maneuvered his vehicle around the corners of the stage with fine and fascinating body movements, explaining what he was doing, what his motivations were; his explanations were crystal clear, moving and objective. It was the first time I could see this extraordinary machine.
From then on, using the same technologies or principles, a number of strange and effective products have been gradually developed over the last decade in the field of urban mobility but also as mobility tools for people with physical disabilities. Cities today are equipped with an unlimited range of advanced vehicles for individual “mobility for all” integrating cybernetics, connectivity, dynamic and material technologies, design, energy solutions, all combining principles that the Segway has integrated from the beginning.
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I consulted Dean Kamen’s biography, which made me decide that he was a very good example to represent today’s values of excellence and impertinence: more than 400 patents, an enormous entrepreneurial spirit, an expertise dedicated to the development of easy-to-use products to solve real practical problems of everyday life. He is motivated and involved in a wide range of social conditions and situations (disabled people, congested or polluted communities, developing countries, etc.). He is also interested and involved in the transhumanist movement”.
BRIEF HISTORY OF THE SEGWAY
The Segway is a gyropod/super scooter invented by Dean Kamen and launched in 1999. The machine reuses a stabilization technology first developed by the same man for users with reduced mobility, so that they can overcome small differences in level. In spite of a revolutionary ambition and a success of esteem with the stars of the neteconomy of the beginning of the years 2000, the Segway does not find its market. Too impertinent. And probably too expensive at $6000 per unit, for a battery life of between 45-120 minutes and a weight approaching 40 kg.
In 2009, the company is bought by Jim Heselden, who kills himself with a Segway by falling off a cliff on his property shortly afterwards. A few years later, after a few minor incidents and a patent war, the company was acquired by Ninebot, his Chinese competitor. Since then, versions have multiplied, notably in the form of scooters (ES1 and ES2), hoverboards (ONE S2), and even e-BMX/VTT.
In addition, Segway now supplies some thirty manufacturers of battery-powered scooters.