Hoverboards have made those dorky-looking Segways even more passé.
Segway's response: a hoverboard that turns into a robot.
Yup, at CES 2016's opening keynote address, Intel (Tech30) CEO Brian Krzanich demonstrated a hoverboard built by Segway -- the company that makes electric scooters for mall cops. ,
The Segway looked like half hoverboard, half Segway. Instead of Segway's trademark handlebar attached to the wheels, this one had a pole attached to the wheels that came up to around knee-level.
He stepped off, and then -- surprise! -- a robot's head popped out of that mysterious pole. It smiled and waved.
The Segway Robot (that's its official name), has two blinking eyes, and speaks with a classic monotone robotic voice. It recognizes your voice commands, and it has an Internet-connected camera on its "face."
When you're not riding it, the Segway Robot can drive itself around. But it's not totally clear what a robotic hoverboard would be used for.
In the demonstration, the Segway Robot answered the door and guided a guest into the living room so the host of the party didn't have to get up. It also followed the presenter around the room, recognizing obstacles and its leader with its camera.
Curiously, the Segway Robot's arms come separately, and they have to be screwed onto the robot's "back." Its hands are pretty simple Lego-man-like hands that are good for picking up cups -- and not much else.
To build the Segway Robot, the company partnered with Intel and Chinese smartphone giant Xiaomi. Segway says the Robot is the first in a line of products that it plans on jointly engineering with its two partners.
Segway, based in New Hampshire, was purchased in April 2015 by Chinese scooter rival Ninebot, famous for its one-wheeled electric scooter. The merged company announced earlier this week that it would adopt the Segway name and make Ninebot a brand within the Segway umbrella.