Sony Segway-Skateboard?

Major electronics maker Sony has filed a patent for what resembles a hybrid between a Segway PT and a skateboard. Taken from the US patent website:

"...a vehicle which can travel in the front and back direction and which can turn by right and left wheels rotated when a rider riding on a step-board moves the position of rider's balance from the center of a vehicle base."

The patent also mentions three and four wheel models based on the same principles. Obviously from the success of the Segway
[Wiki Link] the technology (Both logic and battery) to provide compact, robust, fault tolerant transport system for consumers is available.

There are a number of projects around the net that show the ability of machines to self balance. However the rocking to remain upright inherent in almost all of them isn't the ideal method, and some serious sensors and processing power needs to be used to keep the device level.

The patent was filed in July 2004 and published on November 23rd, 2006. I don't expect this one to come out for a few years, but when it does, signs might start reading "No Skating or Step-boarding".

US PTO Patent link:
http://appft1.uspto.gov/netacgi/nph-...LONGURL

Embedded.com Article:
http://embedded.com/showArticle.jhtml;jsessionid=MMTXT1CTLHR5IQ...LONGURL

New Scientist Tech Article:
http://www.newscientisttech.com/article/dn10874

S1axters Hack comment:
What caught my eye in the patent is in section 0089 where it talks about a "electrostatic capacity pressure transducer" to determine pressure. While determining the capacitance between two plates with a stiff, compressible material between them can be done, I have a simpler solution for those who want to make a step-board before Sony! I remember reading in a simple circuits book like 'Engineers Mini Notebook' years ago about using anti-static foam as a pressure sensor. Anti-static foam's resistance decreases as it is compressed so if you put it between two plates and apply a voltage you can get a nice analog output. While cool, I think Sony will use something a little stronger than anti-static foam found on ICs.

Link for those who don't believe the anti-static foam :
http://www.eecs.tufts.edu/~dsculley/tutorial/sensors/sensors2.html

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