A quick glance at action renderings of the Orbis personal transport concept would make anyone think someone’s out to rip off the Segway. But looking at angles reveals a few differences. The control stem folds around the single, self-balancing wheel, unlike the two-wheel and rigid column that characterizes the Segway. A built-in gyroscope supposedly keeps the whole vehicle balanced.
Designer Christopher Suoto claims that his idea will weigh 27 pounds total, use a lithium-ion battery that can provide 20 kilometers on a single charge, and cruise at a top speed of 25 kph (or 15.5 miles per hour). Those sound like optimistic estimates, but let’s see first if Suoto can bring his concept to the market.
Potential investors lining up to make the Orbis a reality (if there are any) should also read up on the history of Segway. At least $1 million was invested into that personal transportation project, with one investor confident that it would quickly generate $1 billion in sales. However, only 30,000 units were sold between 2001 and 2007.
Perhaps the portability of the Orbis will prove to be a hit, and attract the customers who rejected the Segway. But as with all design concepts, let’s wait for a retail debut.