Unless you've taken a city group tour, work as an airport security guard or are a fan of "Paul Blart: Mall Cop," you might not remember the Segway Human Transporter.
It is the self-balancing, two-wheeled, electric vehicle unveiled in 2001 and touted as the next big thing. But while they still operate in niche markets, they never caught on with everyday consumers, in part because they were too big, clunky and expensive.
Now Japan’s Cocoa Motors says it has the answer: the WalkCar.
Looking much like a laptop computer with wheels or a rideable Roomba vacuum cleaner, the WalkCar is a rechargeable battery-powered platform that fits into a backpack and has just enough room for the rider’s feet.
The machine begins moving when the rider stands on it, and leaning forward causes its speed to increase, up to about six miles per hour. The rider leans from side to side to steer and simply steps off to make the vehicle stop. The WalkCar can travel just over seven miles on a charge.
A company video shows the WalkCar traversing mildly bumpy pavement, but it might have trouble in some older suburbs where tree roots and frost heave have turned some sidewalks into broken, uneven obstacle courses.
The transporter could also run into resistance from people who consider it a sign of laziness — like a portable version of a moving airport walkway. It also recalls the 2008 film “WALL-E,” in which humans move about in hovering lounge chairs and have lost their ability to walk. Or as one Reddit user aptly put it: "It should come with a scale so it can tell you how much weight you have gained since you stopped walking."
The company said it will begin taking pre-orders in October. The WalkCar is expected to cost about $800.