Auto suppliers help create two-wheeled transporter

Suppliers Delphi Automotive Systems Corp. and Michelin North America Inc. are among the companies that helped Segway LLC create a new personal transportation machine called the Segway Human Transporter.

The transporter is a two-wheeled, electric-powered scooter-like device that uses a complex array of gyroscopes and computers to mimic the human body's sense of balance.

Users lean forward to move forward, lean back to reverse course and turn by twisting the handle. The device looks like an old-fashioned push-type lawn mower, with the handle sticking up in the air and a platform to stand on where the cutting blades would be.

It is narrower than the average adult's shoulders. Users are expected to be able to travel about 11 miles on one battery charge, the company says.

With a top speed of 12 mph, the scooter is not a practical replacement for the automobile on long-distance trips, say officials at privately held Segway.

Rather, they see the machine as a handy way to get around congested urban areas where driving a car is inconvenient or impossible, or as a practical "people-mover" in developing nations such as China.

Delphi of Troy, Mich., helped Segway develop the circuit boards and user interface components for the transporter. Michelin North America worked with Segway to develop the tire and wheel assembly.

The transporter initially will be used in environments such as manufacturing plants, warehouse, and corporate and campus transportation. The U.S. Postal Service, Amazon.com and Michelin North America will be among the first to evaluate the product. Michelin plans to use the transporter at its R&D and plant sites.

Segway's transporter will be offered to consumers in late 2002.

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