On Monday, the high-tech scooter was made available for sale to the public through Amazon.com's Web store. Previously, the scooter has been tested primarily by government agencies and companies interested in increasing worker productivity.
Customers can put in an order today--but for no more than two--for a "first-come, first-served" delivery starting next March.
"This is the only way for the general public to reserve first delivery of?our highest performing model," Segway said on its Web site Monday.
With its gyroscopically balanced, software-loaded design, the Segway has been ceaselessly touted by backers as the future of transportation in polluted urban areas and in sprawling work environments such as factory floors. Monday's announcement, in which Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos called the device "one of the most famous and anticipated product introductions of all time," was no more breathless than many of the early reviews of the vehicle.
But hype aside, the company and its inventor, Dean Kamen, have won prestigious design awards. Built to go about 12 miles per hour, the Segway corrects instantly for balance problems and can turn, stop and accelerate by reacting to a rider's slightest motions.
Critics have said the device should not be allowed on the sidewalks, at least until more safety testing has been performed. However, a majority of state legislatures have already changed their state laws to allow the device to be driven on sidewalks.
The scooter will cost $4,950 during the Amazon sale, and requires a $495 nonrefundable deposit. Eager customers who want to write a 75-word essay on why they like the Segway can win a chance at early delivery in time for the holidays.