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12 Things You Can Do On A Segway

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Early on, Segways developed a reputation for being useless and nerdy, but in the last few years people have found plenty of things you can do with, or on, a segway. The personal transporters are becoming more popular as gas prices rise and more uses are found. Keep in mind, these are things you can do if you have the skill and the balance to ride a Segway as they are made to be ridden.

1. Play Polo

Segway Polo is just like regular polo, except the players ride Segways instead of horses. The first organized match was in 2004, and now the game is played worldwide, overseen by the International Segway Polo Association. The international championship tournament is called the Woz Challenge Cup (yes, named after Steve Wozniak) and has been held annually since 2006. (image credit: Luiza)

2. Off-Road Sports

Some Segway enthusiasts have used a Segway as an ATV, skateboard, bicycle, skates, or an SUV. How fun is it to go "four-wheelin'" on two wheels?

3. Play Golf

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Spice up your golf game with the Segway X2 Golf! It's a special model with tires that won't hurt the turf and attachments to hold your golf club bag and a scorecard.

4. Urban Sightseeing

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Sightseeing can be tiring and hard on the feet. That's why so many cities and historical areas offer Segway guided tours. From Anchorage to Zurich, you can find a Segway tour that allows you to see the sights close up without wearing yourself out. (image credit: iluvcocacola)

5. Build a Wheelchair

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Spanish designer Josep Mora took a Segway, added a seat, a kick stand, a folding handlebar, and ramp. The result is a motorized wheelchair (which is not endorsed by Segway). See a video of the chair in action.

6. Make an Arrest

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Long Beach, New York police officer Jose Miguez gave chase to a stolen Mercedes while on a Segway. At 12 mph, he couldn't keep up with a car, but he kept the vehicle in sight until the teenagers who stole it abandoned the car as it crashed. It was easy to catch up with the perpetrators when they were on foot. Many police forces and security departments are finding that Segways save them money in many ways. Outfit a police department with Segways and you'll find you can cover more area with fewer officers walking the beat. Replacing just a few police cars with segways saves money on gasoline, maintenance, insurance, and parking space. But most importantly, many law enforcement units purchase Segways with Homeland Security grants, so the initial outlay is practically zero.

7. Deliver Pizza

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The owner of Nonni's Italian Eatery in Concord, New Hampshire is battling the high price of gasoline by delivering pizzas via Segway. Mathew Mitnitsky modified the Segway to hold pizzas. He says it saves "a ton of money."

8. Race!

200segwayllc.jpgThe Segway Challenge is an obstacle course race for Segways. It's  part of Gen Con Indy, a gamer convention in Indianapolis. They hold open rides for those who want to try it out, and a tournament to see who is the best Segway rider of all. The next Gen Con Indy will be August 13-16, 2009.

9. Walk Your Daughter Down the Aisle

200dicksonwedding.jpgBruce Dickson has a neuromuscular disability that makes walking difficult. He traded in a wheelchair for a Segway to get him where he needs to go. His favorite Segway memory is his daughter's wedding, in which he was able to escort her to the altar on his Segway. Dickson was concerned that he would roll over her dress and tear it, or somehow draw attention away from the bride, but the outdoor wedding came off perfectly. He has also used a Segway for fishing, dancing, and at work.  Dickson is a lawyer in Washington, DC, a city where Segways are more popular than other places, possibly because of the wide sidewalks and long distances to cover.

10. Take a Road Trip

You could ride a Segway long distances, like across the continent, but at a maximum of 12 mph, it would take a long time. 100 days, to be exact, as Hunter Weeks and Josh Caldwell found out when they traveled from Seattle to Boston on Segways. They quit their jobs for the project, a luxury you probably can't afford. But you can enjoy their adventure vicariously by watching the movie 10 MPH. The film is here in its entirety, 93 minutes.

11. Dance

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I don't know the story behind this picture of a Segway ballet, but it looks like fun! (image credit: gunnyrat)

12. Make Friends

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Tens of thousands of people have purchased Segways since they went on sale in 2002. More people are turning to Segways as gas prices rise. But those people are spread far and wide. So they meet online at Segway Social, a social networking site for Segway owners. At Segway Social, you can share Segway stories and tips, find a "glide" (a Segway route) map, and meet other "gliders" in your area. (image credit: Lady Madonna)

Special thanks to Kathleen Pierce for researching this article.

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11-Year-Old Creates a Better Way to Test for Lead in Water
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In the wake of the water crisis in Flint, Michigan, a Colorado middle schooler has invented a better way to test lead levels in water, as The Cut reports.

Gitanjali Rao, an 11-year-old seventh grader in Lone Tree, Colorado just won the 2017 Discovery Education 3M Young Scientist Challenge, taking home $25,000 for the water-quality testing device she invented, called Tethys.

Rao was inspired to create the device after watching Flint's water crisis unfold over the last few years. In 2014, after the city of Flint cut costs by switching water sources used for its tap water and failed to treat it properly, lead levels in the city's water skyrocketed. By 2015, researchers testing the water found that 40 percent of homes in the city had elevated lead levels in their water, and recommended the state declare Flint's water unsafe for drinking or cooking. In December of that year, the city declared a state of emergency. Researchers have found that the lead-poisoned water resulted in a "horrifyingly large" impact on fetal death rates as well as leading to a Legionnaires' disease outbreak that killed 12 people.

A close-up of the Tethys device

Rao's parents are engineers, and she watched them as they tried to test the lead in their own house, experiencing firsthand how complicated it could be. She spotted news of a cutting-edge technology for detecting hazardous substances on MIT's engineering department website (which she checks regularly just to see "if there's anything new," as ABC News reports) then set to work creating Tethys. The device works with carbon nanotube sensors to detect lead levels faster than other current techniques, sending the results to a smartphone app.

As one of 10 finalists for the Young Scientist Challenge, Rao spent the summer working with a 3M scientist to refine her device, then presented the prototype to a panel of judges from 3M and schools across the country.

The contamination crisis in Flint is still ongoing, and Rao's invention could have a significant impact. In March 2017, Flint officials cautioned that it could be as long as two more years until the city's tap water will be safe enough to drink without filtering. The state of Michigan now plans to replace water pipes leading to 18,000 households by 2020. Until then, residents using water filters could use a device like Tethys to make sure the water they're drinking is safe. Rao plans to put most of the $25,000 prize money back into her project with the hopes of making the device commercially available.

[h/t The Cut]

All images by Andy King, courtesy of the Discovery Education 3M Young Scientist Challenge.

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Google's AI Can Make Its Own AI Now
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Artificial intelligence is advanced enough to do some pretty complicated things: read lips, mimic sounds, analyze photographs of food, and even design beer. Unfortunately, even people who have plenty of coding knowledge might not know how to create the kind of algorithm that can perform these tasks. Google wants to bring the ability to harness artificial intelligence to more people, though, and according to WIRED, it's doing that by teaching machine-learning software to make more machine-learning software.

The project is called AutoML, and it's designed to come up with better machine-learning software than humans can. As algorithms become more important in scientific research, healthcare, and other fields outside the direct scope of robotics and math, the number of people who could benefit from using AI has outstripped the number of people who actually know how to set up a useful machine-learning program. Though computers can do a lot, according to Google, human experts are still needed to do things like preprocess the data, set parameters, and analyze the results. These are tasks that even developers may not have experience in.

The idea behind AutoML is that people who aren't hyper-specialists in the machine-learning field will be able to use AutoML to create their own machine-learning algorithms, without having to do as much legwork. It can also limit the amount of menial labor developers have to do, since the software can do the work of training the resulting neural networks, which often involves a lot of trial and error, as WIRED writes.

Aside from giving robots the ability to turn around and make new robots—somewhere, a novelist is plotting out a dystopian sci-fi story around that idea—it could make machine learning more accessible for people who don't work at Google, too. Companies and academic researchers are already trying to deploy AI to calculate calories based on food photos, find the best way to teach kids, and identify health risks in medical patients. Making it easier to create sophisticated machine-learning programs could lead to even more uses.

[h/t WIRED]

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