The future has arrived, and walking is so last century. Segway and its parent company, Ninebot has released a sneak-peak of the launch of their new vehicle called the “S-pod.” At first glance, it resembles a regular chair with wheels, but for those who have watched the Pixar hit film, Wall-E, Segway’s latest innovation might look familiar.
In the dystopian film, we see the grim future of humanity set in the year 2805—overweight and barely capable of supporting their body while being carried around by floating pods. In the year it was released in 2008, companies still haven’t figured out how to create a self-powered chair/cruiser.
But lo and behold, Segway-Ninebot is about to release the S-Pod—a fitting device for the new decade. The pod features a navigation panel that allows the passenger to operate the control knob manually. This operation enables the stroller to change its center of gravity as you move forward or back. Imagine being cradled by this device as you wander around the mall or neighborhood. Maneuvering through crowds and pathways can now be a cakewalk (minus the walking!).
Unlike the predecessors of the Segway-Ninebot pod, maintaining balance will be the least of your worries. Sit back, relax, and feel the breeze against your skin. The 330.7-pound S-Pod hits an average of 25 miles per hour and can run up to 44 miles per hour, depending on terrain and condition. Its removable control pad can be operated remotely, allowing the drivers to ride the pod without using the joystick.
For avid Segway-Ninebot fans (or haters), you might notice a change of trend compared to all the previous Segways constructed. The company has debuted several models, but all of them have something in common—standing up is required.
Some models even got plenty of negative feedback because of their ridiculous price, weight, and many reported accidents. One notable mishap was when a videographer riding a Segway hit an obstacle and crashed into Usain Bolt in the World Athletics Championship in Beijing.
Segway-Ninebot made it very clear that the pods are in no way meant to replace electronic and self-powered wheelchairs. Despite the machine’s simplified yet futuristic build, the S-Pods are marketed primarily for abled riders. Footages of the pods the company released show that although it could be used by a person with a physical disability, it is slightly less comfortable for wheelchair users.
But for the S-Pods’ intended use, you will find it enjoyable and less-exhausting to tour around the city, theme parks, airports, malls, and campuses. It has a self-balancing feature and the capability to spin on two wheels with zero turning radius. Segway-Ninebot has not released key details about availability and pricing.
“We see a need of people, they want to transport with more comfort. And also, we see people, maybe they have physical challenges,” said Julie Tang, marketing director of Segway-Ninebot.
The answer to how S-Pods will revolutionize the world of people-moving devices is looming beyond the horizon. Whether it will live up to its hype or not, only the future knows. Thankfully, about to find out if we’re already a few steps away from building the anti-gravity pods that we’ve seen in the starliners of Wall-E.