A Segway To A New Career
Last October, Segway and WowWee made a joint press announcement centered around the use of Segway's unique SmartMotion technology in upcoming high-tech entertainment products being developed by WowWee. It's not clear if there is a direct correlation nor not, but Segway currently has an open position for a "Robotics Engineer. posted on their website (see links below).
The Hong Kong based WowWee company is famous for the unique robotics products created by their lead scientist/developer, Mark Tilden.
Tilden's creations include record-breaking robots like the original Robosapien, Roboraptor, Robopet, and the Robosapien V2. All of the robots so far have walked on from two to four feet, and have utilized BEAM principles to some extent. The original Robosapien, in our opinion, was an absolute masterwork of BEAM technology and set a new standard in affordable robotic 'entertainment products' (toys).
With the introduction of Segway technology to provide the robot's mobility platform it might appear to some people that WowWee Robotics might be abandoning its roots, but we tend to believe that this move will actually breathe new life into their product line and open exciting new horizons.
As much as we love bipedal robots, the current state of the art has limitations that keep them constrained to fairly predictable environments. They don't do well on uneven surfaces, and carpeting, especially thick or pile carpeting, can be absolutely fatal to a robot like the Robosapien.
The Segway platform, in contrast, was designed specifically to deal with a more rugged and varying environment. Segway owners ride them outside all the time. Postmen use them to deliver the mail. Steve Wozniak even uses them to play polo.
Incorporating the Segway technology into a WowWee robot could result in a new creation capable of handling not only indoor hazards, but also some outdoor environments as well. It's going to be very interesting to see how things develop, and what level of real-world performance they are able to achieve.