Segway wheelchair begins trials on Japanese streets

Kyodo

The Japanese subsidiary of Segway, the inventor of the eponymous two-wheeled electric scooter, on Friday began trials of a wheelchair that enables users to change direction by shifting their weight.

It is the first time Segway Japan Ltd., based in Yokohama, has tested its Genny motorized wheelchair on Japanese streets.

The trials are taking place at the Tsukuba Mobility Robot Experimental Zone, an area in Tsukuba, Ibaraki Prefecture, which in 2011 was designated as a location for manufacturers to test robots on public roads.

The company will test how the chair performs on street crossings and lawns, and how it navigates bumps.

The company says Genny borrows its basic technology from the standard model of the Segway Personal Transporter, which users stand on and control by shifting their weight.

The wheelchair can operate on a wide range of substrates, from paved roads to sandy beaches, some of which would defeat the conventional wheelchairs currently available. Segway’s wheelchair is already on sale in parts of Europe.