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Segway actually thinks you'll want an Android-powered robot that you can ride
- Segway has announced that you can pre-order its adorable Loomo robot rideable through Indiegogo.
- You can ride Loomo like you would a hoverboard, but there’s more to it than just getting you from place to place.
- The fun starts when you step off Loomo and start using its tracking and self-riding features.
Built by Segway-Ninebot subdivision Segway Robotics, Loomo is a self-balancing rideable that can go up to 11 miles per hour and has a range of up to 22 miles on one charge. Like a hoverboard, you lean forward to accelerate and lean back to slow down and go backward. Instead of lifting either foot off the footpads to turn, you press your left or right knee against Loomo’s center.
Loomo’s 11-inch tires should withstand on- and off-road terrain well, though you should avoid running it off curbs or down flights of stairs. This is a 42-pound hoverboard stuffed with sophisticated technology, after all.
That technology comes into play once you step off Loomo, as Segway equipped its rideable robot with Intel‘s RealSense ZR300 camera and a series of ultrasonic, infrared, and touch sensors. They feed data into Loomo’s Detection and Tracking System (DTS) and Human Understanding System (HUS). The DTS lets Loomo detect and avoid obstacles when in robot mode, while the HUS recognizes your face and tracks you when out and about.
Loomo even features a five-microphone array to respond to voice commands, though you can use a companion smartphone app and touch sensors on its body to give the rideable some instructions. Meanwhile, the 4.3-inch display lets you play around with Loomo’s emotion engine, which Segway said includes a jovial personality that aims to cheer people up with lighthearted expressions.
Developers can expand and add further functionality with the Android-based SDK, though Loomo’s software updates should allow for added improvements.
Overall, Loomo allows for several scenarios to potentially play out well in the real world. For example, you might be lugging packages or bags of groceries back home. You could also be a vlogger and have the camera follow you around to document your day. Loomo has 64 GB of internal storage, so that 1080p footage could be put to good use.
Still, Loomo is a niche product with a niche audience. That is likely why Segway, which may not necessarily need crowdfunding to support Loomo, put the self-balancing rideable on Indiegogo. Loomo will retail for $1,800, though early birds can get it for $1,300. If all goes well, Segway’s robot will ship in May 2018.