LAS VEGAS — Walking gets old. That's where smart vehicles like the Inmotion R2 come in handy. This scooter-like device is self-balancing, and users steer it by pushing forward on their toes to go forward, rocking back on their heels to go backward, and turning the directional wheel to turn.
I took the R2 for a spin at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) this week, where the R2 was being shown for the first time, and I found it surprisingly easy to use. Going on sale later this year, the R2 will cost $2,499.
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Getting on the R2 may seem intimidating, but the device's onboard sensors let it remain remarkably steady. Users stand upright on the R2 with their feet on either side of a steering rod and their hands clasping the rod's wheel, kind of like an orator at a podium.
You don't need to pull on the steering rod to move the device forward and back; all you have to do is point and flex your heels. Rock your weight forward to the balls of your feet to go forward, and rock back to your heels to go backward. The steering rod is only to help people shift their weight, and to turn left and right.
The R2 is the successor to Inmotion's R1EX, but featuring improved hardware and a few new features. For example, via the companion smartphone app, R2 owners can set "geofences," or boundaries on a GPS map, out of which the R2 is not allowed to drive. Parents, for example, might set a geofence so their kids don't ride the R2 too far away from home.
The R2 is powered by a lithium-ion battery that gets about 5 hours of continuous usage, depending on the weight the R2 is carrying. This battery is rechargable, and can replenish itself in about 3.5 hours, Inmotion representatives told me.
At CES, I also checked out Inmotion's new smart unicycle device, the V3. This one was much harder to use; the Inmotion representative held my elbow firmly while I tested it out, and every time he let go, I promptly fell over. The V3 sells for $799.
Jill Scharr is a staff writer for Tom's Guide, where she regularly covers security, 3D printing and video games. You can follow Jill on Twitter @JillScharr and on Google+. Follow us @tomsguide, on Facebook and on Google+.