During CES 2020, Segway-Ninebot has launched a number of new vehicles engineered for the smart-city of tomorrow. The one that is inevitably making the headlines, though, is the S-Pod, a self balancing electric wheelchair that works in the same way as the company’s namesake two-wheeler, but doesn’t require the user to keep an upright position.
The “driver” sits into the S-Pod as they would do on a normal chair. At the press of a button, the chair lifts up and self-balances itself, ready to move in any direction. The tech used for the balancing is the same that Segway implements in its scooter, but instead of leaning forward or backwards to move, the user controls the S-Pod via a little joystick installed on one of the armrest. The top speed will be 25mp/h (with a 43.5 miles range on a single charge) and the riders will have to always wear a helmet.
Among journalist and online commenters, the S-Pod has immediately ignited a quest to find the best-fitting cinema or pop-culture reference. According to some, the self-balancing chairs reminds of the hoverchairs used by humans in Pixar’s movie Wall-E. Some other have pointed out a vague resemblance to Professor X’s hovering wheelchair (although the S-Pod lacks the front leg cover). The quest was settled by Segway itself, though: the company admitted that the S-Pod was inspired by Jurassic World’s transparent gyrospheres.
Segways says the official launch of the S-Pod is set for late 2020, with the first vehicle arriving to customers in early 2021. The price hasn’t been announced yet, but it’s safe to guess that it won’t be cheap.