ATLANTA Purse-snatchers beware: Atlanta
police are riding shiny new $9,000 scooters and
it will take at least a brisk jog to get away from
The city's finest unveiled a battalion of Segway
Human Transporter vehicles yesterday. The
battery-powered, two-wheeled scooters can top out at
Inventor Dean Kamen introduced the
gyroscope-stabilized scooters last fall after keeping
them secret for months under the code names IT and
Police in Atlanta a traffic-snarled city
that never met a motor vehicle it didn't like
are borrowing six of the scooters from Kamen's company
for a two-month test run.
The department wants to know whether scooter
patrols will be more effective than foot or bicycle
patrols and also hopes to use the machines to boost
A few officers showed off their new two-wheeled
toys in a demonstration for the TV cameras.
"It's much easier to ride this than walk," Officer
Jennings Kilgore said.
The scooter detects tiny shifts in body weight,
rolling forward or backward depending on which way its
user leans. Its gyroscopes make it difficult to fall
from or to topple.
The police will use them in patrols at Hartsfield
Atlanta International Airport and in the downtown
business district. The debt-ridden department has not
committed itself to buying any of the machines.
Atlanta is the first city to give the scooters a
broad tryout, Segway officials said. Georgia Power and
the city Planning Commission bought two each, and
tourism officers who walk around downtown will share
How the scooters will hold up on the unforgiving
streets of Atlanta, where tooth-jarring potholes
sometimes go unfilled for months, remains to be seen.
Police were put through an obstacle course as part of
their Segway training.
"It just went right through everything," Kilgore
said. "It'll go about as fast as the normal person can
run. It's a pretty good clip."
The police say they think the Segways would help
them catch all but the fastest criminals. A special
turbo key can send the Segway zooming off at 15 mph
the normal top speed is 12 while the
fastest humans can top 20 mph, though only for a short
If anything, Woodard said, the Segway scooters are
more agile and stable than bikes, if considerably
slower in hot pursuit.
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"I don't think anything is perfect in those
situations," he said. "We won't know 'til we get
involved in some real pursuits."