- The Washington Times - Tuesday, December 4, 2001

NEW YORK (AP) The nation has finally learned what "IT" actually is. Capping months of speculation about his mysterious innovation, an inventor revealed the device yesterday a gyroscope-stabilized, battery-powered scooter that he hopes will revolutionize short-distance travel.
Dean Kamen and his backers are banking on the Segway Human Transporter to displace cars, leading to a realigned cityscape that's more people-friendly.
The single-rider Segway, until now known only by its code names IT and Ginger, "will be to the car what the car was to the horse and buggy," Mr. Kamen boasted in this week's Time magazine. "Cars are great for going long distances. But it makes no sense at all for people in cities to use a 4,000-pound piece of metal."
From the time plans for the machine were leaked to the Inside.com Web site almost a year ago, tantalizing but vague mentions of the project kept the device in a controlled state of hype.
Yesterday morning, Mr. Kamen and the hosts of ABC's "Good Morning America" took the scooter for a spin in Manhattan's Bryant Park, demonstrating maneuvers and cruising up and down ramps as crowds watched.
The two-wheeled Segway, which looks like a cross between a hand mower and a Razor scooter, travels at up to 12 mph, said Dave Chapman, Mr. Kamen's spokesman.
It's designed to be difficult to fall from or knock over because of gyroscopes that work to keep it upright. Speed and direction are controlled by the rider's shifting weight.
Riders stand upright over the invention's single axle, navigating with a bicycle-like handlebar. A single battery charge can propel the scooter 15 miles over level ground.
Mr. Kamen, whose Manchester, N.H.-based DEKA Research and Development company will oversee production, said the Segway requires about 10 cents' worth of electricity for a six-hour charge.
Mr. Kamen holds roughly 100 U.S. patents. His other inventions include the heart stent used by Vice President Richard B. Cheney, a wheelchair that climbs stairs and the first portable kidney-dialysis machine.
The U.S. Postal Service and the city of Atlanta will be among the first purchasers, buying 80-pound heavy-duty models for $8,000 apiece, Mr. Chapman said.
The Postal Service plans to test 20 Segways on mail routes in Concord, N.H., and Tampa and Fort Myers, Fla., starting in January, Mr. Chapman said.
In February, Atlanta's visitors bureau employees will begin using the scooters to patrol the tourist district, Mr. Chapman said.
A 65-pound, $3,000 consumer model won't be available for at least a year.

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