GREENVILLE, S.C.-The Segway Human Transporter self-balancing, electric-powered personal transportation device unveiled this week depends on newly developed Michelin ``Balance'' tires for its traction, ride and mobility.
Michelin North America Inc. developed the Balance tires and wheels in conjunction with Segway L.L.C., a Manchester, N.H.-based business founded by inventor and entrepreneur Dean Kamen.
The two-wheeled Segway HT was unveiled Dec. 3 with great fanfare after years of development and months of speculation about a ``revolutionary'' product.
The Segway HT is a gyroscope-stabilized, battery-powered scooter capable of speeds up to 12 mph and a single-charge operating range of 15 miles. The rider stands upright and controls speed and direction by shifting weight.
It weighs 65 pounds and is expected to cost about $3,000 when it becomes commercially available next year or in 2003.
Because the Segway HT is designed to operate over a variety of indoor and outdoor surfaces, Michelin said it compounded a tire that is non-marking for interior and exhibits long tread life for exterior use.
The distinctive tread allows tires to turn either forward or backward with precision handling, supporting the in-place turning capability of the device, Michelin said.
The tire-wheel system offers low rolling resistance for maximum energy conservation and low operating pressure for a smooth ride, Michelin said.
``We've worked for several years with Michelin's design and engineering teams to develop a tire and wheel specifically matched to the unique characteristics of the Segway HT. Michelin's tire and wheel have become an integral part of this incredible machine,'' said J. Douglas Field, Segway's vice president for product development and chief engineer.
Michelin also designed the wheel and coordinates the entire tire/wheel assembly process, delivering complete assembly units to Segway.