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We'd all crave Segways if they could fly

Second Life introduces flying Segway-like devices. So why not in real life?

Caroline McCarthy

Those of us who followed the Segway phenomenon back when it was known as "Ginger" and was touted as the biggest technological innovation since the Internet sometimes ask--what if? What could be done to this thoroughly dorky mode of transportation to make it really catch on? A ways back we wrote about a fratboy prototype called the "Kegway," which would make it a whole lot easier to booze on the go but also a whole lot easier to score yourself a DUI. Plus, there's the whole "laws of physics" thing that would probably make the Segway fall over if a keg were strapped onto the front. So maybe the Kegway isn't the best course of action for Segway Inc.

Caroline McCarthy

Then, last Thursday afternoon, I logged into Second Life to check out the new Popular Science headquarters on Millions Of Us' island. When I arrived, the avatar of fellow Craver Daniel Terdiman was there, riding around on a red Segway-like scooter known as a "SLegway." (Get it? Second Life, SL, Segway, SLegway?) That's us in the photo to the left. I'm in the green shirt, he's the guy in the hat on the SLegway, and in the skirt is a curious bystander. Oh, and behind us is CNET Networks' Second Life headquarters, which happens to be next door to Popular Science.

After about 30 seconds of me making fun of Daniel for giving his avatar a SLegway to ride around on, I asked him if it could fly. After all, in Second Life, everybody can fly. There's a little "fly" button right on your menu bar. He said he hadn't tried it yet. But lo and behold, when he commanded his avatar to fly, the SLegway flew right along with it, even producing some jet-pack-style flames. (See photo evidence to the right.) And that's when I realized that a SLegway was much cooler than its non-flying, "first-life" counterpart. Luckily, my avatar got her hands on one soon after--it makes for a nice, smooth flight over the lands of Linden Labs. But why can't real Segways fly? Come on, I'm sure there's a way to do it. It can't be that hard.

Dean "Segway Guy" Kamen, are you listening? Build me a flying Segway, and I'll buy it. Fo' real.