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Segway Platform Ladder

Never Falls Over!
  [vote for,

You're all probably tired of the segway story, but here's an idea for practical use of the technology.

We have step ladders for personal elevation in a free-standing position, and we have extension ladders for locations where there is a suitable support structure. But, with a segway platform, one ladder would work in both situations.

It would never fall down. You wouldn't have to climb down to reposition, just lean in the direction you want to go.

To keep it simple, you could just stick a conventional-looking ladder on a segway. But, for the really tech-savvy, it could be a telescoping platform. If we could incorporate the "just think about it and it goes there" controllability of the segway into vertical mobility, then you could go up and down automagically as well.
quarterbaker, Dec 20 2001

the link i talked about http://tlb.org/scooter.html
this guy built gis own segway from scratch for about half the cost [andrew1, May 13 2005]

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       The problem with this compared to a regular segway is that you'd need a much more powerful motor, since the torque it has to exert to right itself is much greater if your centre of gravity is 10 feet away from the centre, rather than 3 feet. Even with a conventional segway, there must be things you can do to it to make it fall over. The risks of this ladder falling over would be much greater. Of course, all existing ladder solutions (e.g. a man at the bottom holding on) have similar limits to their operation, so this might still be worthwhile.
pottedstu, Dec 20 2001

       Yeah. I can imagine that gyro screaming if someone heavy climbed way up and out.
phoenix, Dec 20 2001

       Imagine the potential of abuse for this device... children screaming down the sidewalk ten feet off the ground, etc.
spew, Dec 20 2001

       Interesting idea. I've been told that balancing on the end of a tall ladder (the way circus acrobats do it) is easier than balancing on it near the bottom (e.g., while climbing down.) Simiarly, balancing a pencil on your finger is all but impossible; balancing a long stick is so easy a child can do it without practicing. Maybe this means that, in spite of pottedstu's argument, "segwaying" a long ladder with a human on top isn't so difficult after all.
jutta, Dec 21 2001

       I never thought of it like that. It takes longer for a tree to fall to earth than a pencil, because the tree has much further to fall, and initially most of the force on both is through the pole, but the pencil changes its angle much faster, exposing it to far higher accelerations.   

       By my calculations, if you're at the top of a 1-metre high pole, and you go 10 cm to the side, the force perpendicular to the pole will be 10 times greater than if you went 10 cm to the side up a 10 metre pole. (Torque equals distance times force, so the torque in either case would be the same.) I don't remember enough applied math to calculate the time of fall in each case (woah, nasty differential equation), but I suspect it would take longer for someone up a 10m pole to go from 1cm off-centre to 10cm off-centre, than it would for someone up a 1m pole to go the same distance.   

       I'd still want to conduct further experiments before I went up one, but maybe there's a better chance than I first though. We'd need to find out what forces someone up a ladder was subject to.
pottedstu, Dec 21 2001

       Thanks for your comments. Especially pleased that jutta stopped by!

Regarding balance and forces: there must have been some reason, besides the large tire=smoother ride issue, for early bicycles to be so damned tall.

Any stilt walkers out there want to weight in on ease/force of balance at height?
quarterbaker, Dec 21 2001

       I like this idea. One problem I see is how should the segway-ladder distinguish between a user leaning in order to move the ladder, and a user leaning in order to reach something? The ladder is likely to drive itself into anything I'm working on.   

       [baker/4]: I think the other reason they had such large wheels is that they had no chain or gear mechanism, so the only way to get a good pedal-earth ratio was to make the wheel really large.
wiml, Dec 24 2001

       course we love it, the guys a genius
po, Dec 26 2001

       Cute concept, but for two major problems: in order for someone to remain more-or-less balanced on top of the ladder, the bottom of it must be free to move a potentially-large distance; and the TOP of it must also be able to move a large distance in response to weight shifts. It would be very difficult to do any useful work from the top of a segway-ladder since it would be constantly moving all over the place in an effort to stay balanced.   

       As for the notion of using the technology to slow falls, it would at best replace impact injuries with severe abrasion ones, since the only way for the thing to reduce vertical accelleration would be for it to accellerate horizontally.   

       BTW, what happens to the user of a Segway if it hits a 4" curb going 12mph?
supercat, Dec 28 2001

       quarterbaker: For the record early bikes were tall to get a bigger gear (before the chain was baked) the limit to the gear you could have was the size of wheel that would fit in your inseam!
PiledHigherandDeeper, May 26 2003

       This would take a lot of fine tuning.The reason a segway stays balanced is not that the gyroscope is always balanced (the gyro just tells it when its off balance) but that when it gets off balance that it moves accordingly to place itsself under the center of gravity, thus averting the fall.But sometimes it can move too far and ends up on the other side of the center of gravity, and then having to correct itsself again resulting in a 'bucking' action often experienced by do-it-yourself segway builders (see link).imagine this while on top of a ladder, scary eh?
andrew1, May 13 2005

       Have a "segway" torque balancing system also at the top, communicating with the unit on the bottom? Only have one unit on the top?   

       Just the accellerator sensors at the top - aka human inner ear? (maybe one of the segway's secrets?) The "feet" do the adjusting to keep standing upright!   

       Having a full "segway" unit on the top would increase the overall and initial weight to be lifted.   

       But, that style reminds me of the mass dampener systems installed at the top of tall / skyscraper buildings to help minimize their sway sway.
nekote, Nov 14 2005

       I think that a ladder that *didn't* move around would be much more useful. On occasion I have needed a ladder, but there was nothing to lean it against.
Ling, Nov 15 2005


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