What is a Self Balancing Scooter

What is a Self Balancing Scooter

They are known under different names going as far as hoverboard, but many are wondering what is a self balancing scooter? The definition of a self balancing scooter is defined as a rover on 2 wheels, powered electrically and controlled based on the rider balancing to maneuver it. The self balancing scooter, which some call it a “2 wheel balancing board”, or a “hoverboard scooters” is the latest descendant of the older “Segway”. The Segway was controlled with handle bars. The self balancing scooter is controlled by the movement of the rider’s feet on the pedals while keeping his/her balance on the board. It is smaller than the Segway and can move at approximately the same speed.

What is the Segway / Segway PT?

Segway PT - Used by the Police

Segway PT – Used by the Police

As mentioned above the self balancing scooter is the product derived from the Segway which originated in the early 2000’s. The Segway PT is a two-wheeled, self-balancing, battery-powered electric vehicle invented by Dean Kamen. It is produced by Segway Inc. of New Hampshire. The name Segway is derived from the word segue, meaning smooth transition. PT is an abbreviation for personal transporter.

Computers, sensors, and electric motors in the base of the Segway PT keep the device upright when powered on with balancing enabled. The rider commands the PT to go forward or backward by shifting their weight forward or backward on the platform. The PT uses gyroscopic sensors and accelerometer-based leveling sensors to detect the resulting changes in its pitch angle and, to maintain balance, it drives its wheels forward or backward as needed to return its pitch to upright.

In the process, the rider establishes and then maintains a desired speed by modulating the extent and duration of their fore/aft weight shifts. To turn and steer, the rider shifts the handlebar to the left or right. The PT responds by adjusting the speeds of the wheels in opposite directions causing the PT to yaw and, if not traveling forward or backward, turn in place. At speed, the amount of shift of the handlebar corresponds to the amount of left or right lean required by the rider to balance themselves on the platform during a turn.

Segway PTs can reach a speed of 12.5 miles per hour (20.1 km/h).

A Look at the Self Balancing Scooter

When we look at the self balancing scooter, we can’t help but notice how cool they look and similar to its ancestor the Segway PT. The similarities are there and it stops when we look for handle bars. The self balancing scooter has no handle bars. The device really took off last year in 2015. The coolness effect originated mainly from celebrities going about their day-to-day routine by simply “balancing” and going forward, backward, in circles, or turning on those boards.

The self balancing scooters was notably used by stars like Wiz Khalifa, Justin Bieber, Chris Brown, Austin Mahone, Mike Tyson and Ivana Korab to name a few.  because of their popularity and fan base in their respective field, they were able to draw the attention for these devices to climb up in the popularity ladder.

Common Features of the Self Balancing Scooter

Hovertrax by Razor

Most of the self balancing scooters are built with alloy aluminum and are rigid. The weight it can sustain on average is approximately 220lbs. Most of them are powered by two driver motors that can reach a speed between 6 to 12 mph. For these boards to be fun, it doesn’t need to be faster than that. The wheels differ in size depending on the brand. They can vary from 6 inches to 10 inches and most of them are airless tires. Each hoverboard scooter weighs around 22 to 26 lbs. each. The lightweight board makes it portable. They can be carried in a specifically designed bag that you can sling on your shoulder or back and pick the area you’ll want to ride.

They are also powered with a ion Lithium battery that is rechargeable. The battery range on them again vary from one brand to another. The factors that will affect the length of a battery charge will depend on the weight of the rider, terrain, climate, speed the board is traveling at, and of course its maintenance and upkeep. All the self balancing scooters uses the same gyroscopic sensors to navigate whether you are going forward, backwards and left or right turns.

Moving and Changing Direction

On order to get going a rider need to stand on the self balancing scooter with an evenly weighted foot “level” on either foot platform. From this starting point a rider must:

  • Press toes on both feet downward to move forward
  • Press heels on both feet downward to move backward
  • Put more downward pressure on the front side of the foot platform on the outside of the turn.
  • Push downward on the front edge of one foot pedal and push downward on the rear edge of the other foot platform to spin on the spot. 
  • If a rider needs to go faster, all he needs to do is press the foot platforms at a greater angle for “more” and reduce the angles  for “less”.
  • To slow down and stop, the rider simply needs to apply force to the edges opposite the direction of travel, you may not only stop but continue on to reverse your direction.

Safety when riding self balancing scooters

When riding a self balancing scooter, it is very important to apply careful rules of safety. You should always wear proper protective gear, such as an approved safety helmet, elbow pads, kneepads and wrist guards. Riders should always athletic shoes (lace-up shoes with rubber soles) and keep shoelaces tied and out of the way of the wheels, motor and drive system. You should never ride barefoot or in sandals.

Always be cautious of where you ride. never ride in an area where motorized vehicles such as cars, motorcycles, trucks and buses are operating. Always consider pedestrians and stay clear of them. Do not ride your self balancing scooter in an area where it is bumpy, uneven, wet (puddles), grassy.

How much they cost?

Normally a self balancing scooter that is quality-built will “hover” around $500.00. There are some models cheaper from overseas, but caution should be exercised in buying a model that will last and you will be satisfied. Brands like the Swagway X1, the Powerboard by Hoverboard, and the Hovertrax by Razor are some of these quality brands.

Like any new technology on the market, the price of a self balancing scooter can be somewhat steep.  With the technology advancing, it is expected the price of these scooters on 2 wheels will drop slightly and become more affordable.

Check out the Self Balancing Scooters on Amazon!

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