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Segway personal transporters for sale

For those willing to spend $4,950, the Segway is available only at Amazon.com.
For those willing to spend $4,950, the Segway is available only at Amazon.com.

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(CNN) -- Segways went on sale Monday to the general public, giving consumers a limited-time chance to buy a gyroscope-equipped, two-wheeled "human transporter" that designers say can go anywhere a person can walk.

The electric-powered transporter is available only at Amazon.com with a $4,950 price tag. Orders, with a 10-percent down payment, must be made by Dec. 31, with delivery scheduled between March and July 2003.

But 30 lucky buyers who place their orders before Dec. 16 can enter for a chance to get theirs by Dec. 25.

Company president and Segway creator Dean Kamen made the announcement with Amazon.com's Jeff Bezos on ABC's Good Morning America and the planned plan to roll their Segways onto the floor of the stock exchange and ring the opening bell at NASDAQ.

Mostly used for business

Until Monday, only corporate and government organizations could buy Segways. Kamen had planned to sell smaller models to consumers, but the model that went on sale Monday (model #167) is the same size as the commercial versions.

Segways are fuel efficient and run on two electrically charged batteries, each equipped with five gyroscopes that keep it balanced and upright. Most are programmed to top speeds of 12 miles an hour and can go about 15 miles on a single charge.

Charging the battery is simple too -- just plug it into an outlet for about six hours.

Should they mingle with pedestrians?

According to Segway representatives, learning to ride one is easier than riding a bike, but their mechanical nature has led some to question whether they should mingle with pedestrians on sidewalks or be limited to bike paths and streets. So far, 31 states have passed laws making them legal on sidewalks.

Other concerns include using the transporters inside supermarkets, stores and restaurants, and their safekeeping when parked in a public place.

Commercial Segways have been on the market for about nine months. Boston, Atlanta and San Francisco city governments have tested a few. Police departments have tested them on certain city beats, including patrolling airports.

Sales on the corporate side have not been great, but the company claims it is satisfied with the response.



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