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Fine-tuning the Segway

In response to the Feb. 21 Perspectives column by Charles Cooper, "Cool gadget, dumb idea":

There is a simple solution to the utter chaos that you predict between walkers and Segways. Install ultrasonic distance sensors on the front and rear of the Segway, like the kind you see on the rear of minivans and SUVs or on office droids to avoid them hitting walls or people.

If the sensor detects that the Segway is closing in on an object, have it engage the brake. If there is an object too close, don't let the Segway start. The closing distance could be adjusted automatically based on the current speed of the Segway, say 5 feet for slow or start and 15 feet for moving at top speed. It would depend on the speed versus stopping distance of a Segway. They could put a red LED on the tiller that would come on to tell the operator why the Segway came to a stop or was not allowed to start.

With the Segway going for about $5,000 a pop, what's another $100 or so to assure its cohabitation with the walking public? Maybe they could offer it standard in the Segway model II for more money and offer a retrofit kit for existing models. It might even prevent an intoxicated pub runner from slamming into a wall at full speed.

Sometimes, it's the simplest of technology that solves the largest perceived problems.

Monroe Pattillo
Fort Lauderdale, Fla.