Re: Fwd: Re: What is IT?

Date: Thu Jan 11 2001 - 00:45:03 MST

I think the explanation of "IT" which Max forwarded is correct, given
the links he provided (which I will repeat here as his message appeared
in HTML format): referring to
the Independence Transporter which is part of the first drawing of
the patent which is the patent.

The patent is basically for the stair-climbing wheelchair, and shows
dozens of variations on the theme, but at least one, figure 21 (seen in
smaller form at the boing-boing link above), is intended for able-bodied

    In FIG. 21, it can be seen that a vehicle can be made in accordance
    with the present invention without providing a chair. The subject
    stands on a platform and holds a grip on handle attached to the
    platform, so that the vehicle of this embodiment may be operated
    in a manner analogous to a scooter. The grip may be conveniently
    provided with a thumb-operated joystick for directional control,
    although other methods of control may also be used. For example,
    the handle and grip may be avoided altogether, and the platform may
    be equipped with sensors to detect leaning of the subject. Indeed,
    as described in connection with FIG. 5 and as further described below,
    the pitch of the vehicle is sensed and compensated for in the control
    loop, so that if the subject leans forward, the vehicle will move
    forward to maintain vertical stability. Accordingly, a forward lean
    will cause forward movement; a backward lean will cause backward
    movement. Appropriate force transducers may be provided to sense
    leftward and rightward leaning and related controls provided to
    cause left and right turning as a result of the sensed leaning. The
    leaning may also be detected using proximity sensors. Similarly, the
    vehicle of this embodiment may be equipped with a foot- (or force-)
    actuated switch to activate the vehicle, in such a manner that the
    switch is closed so as to power the vehicle automatically when the
    subject stands on the platform.

If he got that feedback mechanism working, it sounds like fun: lean
forward and the device scoots ahead to stay under you. That could
account for Bezos' "loud, booming laugh" described in the tease document.

If you could ride this thing around, steering it by leaning, going up and
down curbs, stairs, etc, that could really be revolutionary. I don't
think you'd necessarily commute to work on it but for short trips it
would be great. Imagine all the people you see walking around in the
city, or taking taxi rides of just a few miles, instead riding ITs,
right into the building where they are going.

I have to confess, I've dreamed for years about a device like this,
a motorized platform you'd stand on and which would use leaning for
control. I know nothing about mechanical engineering so it didn't go
farther than that. But I'd love to try one.


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