Toshiba invents the Segway

Toshiba's new scooter - closeup view Japan’s Toshiba invents the Segway…10 years too late. I cannot find a corroborating news story yet, but here are the first pictures of Toshiba’s new scooter.
Toshiba's new scooter

From what I heard, this Segway-like personal commuter vehicle will be fuel cell powered and the LED lights on the front are for communicating with other Toshiba transporters to prevent collisions and auto-navigate. The Segway is illegal to use in Japan on public roads so the Toshiba transporter’s anti-collision and auto-navigation features are needed for any hope for future government approval. [See Comment 3 below for legal details.]
Toshiba's new scooter - view 2
I “liberated” the photos from a insanely vague Japanese PR release that oddly was not fully released (maybe it was recalled). The Toshiba “Jegway” in the picture is only a 1/2 scale prototype. The “Jegway” is actually a 3-wheel device and may be locked in the folded position so people don’t try to ride during testing (Toshiba did not offer any explanation and their Japanese website no details or pictures).

UPDATE: Last year, the 3Yen also covered Toyota’s i-Swing which is a faux-Segway.
iSwing transporter

For “prior art” that’s more fun, check out’s Japan-first transporter…
mutantfrog's stone trike transporters Click for more info & pix.

UPDATE: More proof that the Segway is banned in Japan….

Segway Park offers test ride to visitors in Tokyo, Saturday, December 16, 2006
A special park set up at Fuji Television in Odaiba offers test rides of the Segway human transporter to visitors until Jan 3 to make the new electric-powered vehicle familiar with users….
S G I Japan Ltd began selling the device to companies in Japan as an official sales agent in late October… Since Japanese laws do not allow the machine to run on public roads, S G I expects it will be used for business purposes at large plants, warehouses, shopping malls, amusement parks and golf links.

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I'm a pale, alien, quadruped who has worked for 25+ years at "Maybe-the-Largest Inc." in Tokyo.

8 thoughts on “Toshiba invents the Segway”

  1. Over on CNET’s “Crave Gadget Blog”, people are wondering why/if Segway transporters are really banned in Japan:

    “When did they enact the ban? When living there between 04 and 05 I saw a few of them in Nagoya, Sakae area mostly.”

    For Segways, it’s, “illegal to ride them on public roads in Japan. (MSN, 16 Nov 2005)” Under Japan’s traffic law, the Segway cannot run on public roads but it can be uses on private land such as shopping centers and factories is up to owner of the land. When President Bush gave PM Koizumi a Segway as a gift, there was a lot of giggling in the Japanese press that Koizumi was only able to use in the driveway of the new Prime Minister’s residence.

    According to a ruling of The Road Traffic Law of Japan (Oct 2006), it reads that it is only possible to use a Segway on privately owned land. A very rough translation of the ruling reads that the Segway is only for:

    *Transportation in shopping mall in facilities and amusement park with vast site such as factory, warehouse, distribution center, universities, and laboratories as corporate usage
    *It uses it in the area such as a private security companies and robot special districts of the local government specially authorized for guard in in facilities and the building.

    As a practical matter, Segways are so rare in Japan that cops would laugh and let them pass. Japanese police HATE getting involved.

    Although the national traffic law makes it impossible to get a licence plate for a Segway, ultra micro-cars (under 50cc) especially electric ones can be registered with the local municipality rather than the national system. It might be that those Nagoya Segways *could* receive a licence plate via a bribe to a local municipality or for a special use such as at World Expo in Nagoya last year.

    I’ve looked into buying a Segway. I have found that the only real legal exception for public use of a Segway is for a certified handicapped person like me could claim their Segway is an electric wheelchair. However, the Segway is NOT a prescribed mobility device so the national health care system would not pay for a Segway. On the other hand, an electric wheelchair or low-speed electric scooter-cart is 100% free and its maintenance is covered by the Japanese national health system.

  2. BINGO! I found the story about Toshiba ‘Jegway’ for you.

    AFP news, 13 November 2006, Tokyo, JAPAN: A woman poses with half-scaled models of Japanese electronics giant Toshiba’s prototype of a scooter-like tricycle for commuters which can communicate with other vehicles using their LED headlights that flash several million times a second, at the company’s headquarters in Tokyo, 13 November 2006. The flashing headlights would enable the vehicles, which Toshiba is expecting to be commercialised in about 10 years time, to communicate by receiving and transferring information to help navigation and avoid collisions.

  3. [Here another Segway ban, besides Japan]

    Holland clamps down on Segways

    –Dutch roads un-clogged–

    The Register Wednesday 3rd January 2007 11:15 GMT
    Dutch police have banned Segways from all “public roads, bike paths and walkways”, AP reports.
    The ban, which came into force on New Year’s Day, was provoked by the country’s Royal Traffic Agency’s classification of the Segway as a moped and its refusal to approve the vehicle due to its lack of a brake…
    –[big snip]–
    … the Dutch use Segways at Amsterdam’s Schiphol airport…. apparently that counts as private property, so the new law doesn’t apply.

  4. Segway Debuts in Japanese Airport
    Sept 12, 2008 16:29 – Nikkei
    SGI Japan Co Ltd, the general sales agent of the Segway… has conducted the demonstration experiments of going on patrol on Segways in highly-public facilities such as Tokyo Big Sight and the Hitachi Seaside Park.
    Currently, it is prohibited to ride a Segway on public ways in Japan by the Road Traffic Law….more

  5. While it’s still illegal to use on Japanese streets and footpaths, here’s a photo of the “traditional” use of a Segway by a kimono-clad, Kyoto lady.

    japanese kimono lady on segway

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