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Segway transporters get trial run at Tinker

TINKER AIR FORCE BASE, Okla. (AFPN) -- Electric scooters resembling a modern-day chariot without the horses are helping people complete day-to-day tasks here as part of a test to determine if the scooters are viable to purchase.

Environmental management experts began testing the Segway Human Transporter recently in several organizations. They leased 10 of the transporters for four months and will determine whether the base should buy them.

Segway Human Transporters come in two models, said Vicki Preacher, environmental management director. The "E" model, designed to carry only a single person, and an "I" model with cargo saddlebags on each side.

Computers and gyroscopes power the transporters, allowing riders to easily maneuver in small areas, Preacher said. Environmental management officials and those from the manufacturer are investigating the possibility of adding a hitch to pull small trailers.

"There's several good reasons why we're looking at these electric transporters," Preacher said. "One is to see if they can be used in place of fuel burning vehicles since this would result in less air emissions to the environment.

The Segway will be used for different tasks such as delivering mail and products between shops, or transporting people from one side of the cavernous building or ramp to the other, according to Geri Hart, chief of the environmental most efficient organization.

"We're hoping to collect enough data (during this test) to determine if the transporters would be suitable for use at Tinker," she said.

While Hart and company are looking at the viability, Tinker employees seem to be having a good time with the test.

"They're way too cool," said Timothy McGraw, aircraft production division faculties engineering industrial engineer. "Easily the next generation of personal transportation. I predict that within the next five years they will be commonplace."

"I like them," said Barbre Stout, Oklahoma City Air Logistics Center chemical staging area. "We rode them around the shop areas yesterday, checking out cabinets. They maneuvered really well and they only took up the space of a person. I'd like to see what they can do with a trailer."

Although the transporters seem to be an easier way for some employees to get around, safety still remains a top priority and getting people trained is first on that list, said Don Chambers, chief of industrial safety.

He said Tinker's safety personnel worked extensively with supervisors to establish parameters for responsible use and locations to safely use the Segway transporter. Environmental management officials also provided helmets for the peace of mind of riders feeling insecure on the transports.

"Of course, everyone wants to try it, but it's not a toy," said Chambers. "We will be working extensively with everyone to incorporate these in the fleet safely," he said.

Tinker officials said the decision to buy the transporters or not will come in mid January. (Courtesy of AFMC News Service)

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