Segway Rolls Out a Recall

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Segway LLC has issued a voluntary recall of its Human Transporter product after revealing that riders might fall from the device as the batteries are drained of power, the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission said.

The recall affects about 6000 two-wheeled units sold between March 2002 and September 2003. The Manchester, New Hampshire, company has received three reports of incidents related to this problem, including one person who endured a head injury requiring stitches after falling off an HT, the CPSC said.

Stable Ride?

Riders might be subject to falls if they speed up abruptly, encounter an obstacle, or continue to ride their HT after the low-battery alert signal is given, the CPSC said. The device does not deliver enough power under certain conditions, such as when the batteries are running out of power, the commission said.

A Segway representative did not immediately return a call seeking comment.

The stability of the Human Transporter is maintained by five gyroscopes that sense the position of the rider's body, and directs the motors to move the unit's wheels forward or backward. To move forward, the rider simply leans forward, and the device accelerates in accordance with the severity of the lean.

In June, President Bush fell off an HT he received as a Father's Day gift when he attempted to ride it at his family's Kennebunkport, Maine, estate. Afterward, it was reported that he had failed to turn it on.

Power Problem

Segway uses two nickel-metal hydride batteries from Saft Batteries, a division of Alcatel SA, in the HT. It has a range of 11 to 17 miles, depending on the version of the device.

According to information at Amazon.com, where the ISeries HT is sold, the system drains both batteries at the same rate, and is designed to bring the unit safely to a halt if one of the batteries fails. Customers can recharge the unit by plugging it into a wall outlet.

The HT is available in three models, all of which are affected by Friday's recall. The ISeries costs $4950 on Amazon.com, plus shipping. The ESeries and PSeries units sold to commerical and government customers are also subject to the recall, the CPSC said.

Upgrade Available

Owners can call 1-877/889-9020 between 8 a.m. and 8 p.m. ET Monday through Friday for more information. The company will provide a free software upgrade, but no information was provided as to how that upgrade would be installed, or if customers would have to ship their units back to Segway.

The company is also contacting customers directly, the CPSC said.

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