The Self-Balancing Sideways Segway

[Jason Dorie] has been hard at work on his two-wheeled, self-balancing skateboard. He calls it the Sideway.

Similar to the Segway, it relies on the user shifting their weight to control the speed at which it will run. A Wii Nunchuk controller is used to steer, which varies each wheels output, which allows for some tight maneuvering!

Under the deck is a pair of 24V 280W (about 1/3HP each) scooter motors which are driven by two 32A Sabertooth speed controllers. They’re run off a pair of 3 cell 5Ah LiPos which get him about 40 minutes of use — not too shabby! To handle the control algorithm for the IMU, he’s using a Parallax Propeller with custom software.

To demonstrate, he takes us of a tour of one of his favorite stores — Michael’s.

Surprisingly, not a single person complained or attempted to kick him out! And in case you were wondering about the top speed — it’s about 10mph.

For a first prototype, it works pretty damn well. He’s already planning version two though. But with that being said, what ever happened to Segway? We’ve seen enough home-made ones — is there still much of a market for them, for other than mall security and tourist tours?

13 thoughts on “The Self-Balancing Sideways Segway

  1. Very nice! Can’t wait to see version two. As for Segway, I think they priced themselves right out of the market. Had a good idea, made it too expensive for the average Joe, and now, who hears or even cares about them? As this project shows, the tech to do what it does just doesn’t justify THAT high of a price point.

    1. Agreed about Segway.

      Had they gone the Ford Model T route, city planners, building architects, and sidewalk designers would’ve written them into the design rules and they’d be as common as shopping carts. Instead they built a DeLorean and now we wonder “what ever happened to…”

    1. I would still rather be facing forward, maybe in a steady position as if you were taking a step but maybe with your legs spread apart a bit more… so you would still be able to control the balance if the electronics failed

      1. Unfortunately it doesn’t work that way, since your center of gravity is so high. This is a classic inverted pendulum problem, and it’s inherently unstable. It is *very* hard to balance on this thing when it’s unpowered.

          1. The current version does have that, actually – I put casters under the nose in case I push it too hard. It doesn’t help much, but it makes the deceleration a little less rapid.

    1. Yes, for V2 I’d like to make it much lighter, wider wheelbase, and more finished looking. This one was as much a testing platform (and excuse to buy a welder) as anything else. :)

    1. I’ve seen the OneWheel, AirWheel, and the Nimbus too. I’ve been thinking of trying one just because it would be simpler. Tilt-steering will mean putting pressure sensors in the deck, and possibly trying to make the deck float on the frame so there’s some lean to it. I have a number of ideas for how to do that, but the single fatter tire would remove the need for all of it. On the other hand, this one does an awesome job of going fast in a straight line. I was bummed when I realized I didn’t have enough inputs for wheel encoders. I had a little a-ha moment when I realized I could use the gyro to correct for differences in the motor output, so it tracks really well. :)

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