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A Complete History: How the Segway RMP Evolved, and What It Might Become

The Segway RMP is the most robust and proven mobile robotic platform. From university researchers to product engineers, the Segway RMP is the top choice for developers solving problems with robotics.

But how did RMP earn its reputation? Let’s take a total look at RMP’s history.

2002: The Prototype

Segway developed the first RMP prototype in 2002 from a necessity for a robust and reliable indoor/outdoor mobile platform for robotics research and robotics application development at the university level.

Why? Because analysis showed universities spent more than half their time and budget getting a mobile platform up and running—detracting from the time they could spend on actual research.

Through partnership with SPAWAR in 2003, Segway shipped 15 Segway human transporter conversion kits to select leaders at university robotics labs, including:

  • Carnegie Mellon University
  • Massachusetts Institute of Technology
  • NASA / Johnson Space Center
  • Naval Research Laboratory
  • Neurosciences Institute
  • Stanford University
  • Georgia Institute of Technology
  • University of Massachusetts
  • University of Michigan
  • University of Pennsylvania
  • University of Southern California
  • Vanderbilt University

Read more about the SPAWAR prototype project.

2003-2011: The First-Generation RMP

Segway used feedback from the 15 converted human transporters, plus internal Segway development, to create the very first Segway RMP line in 2003.

The primary goal in the first generation of RMP was to provide a platform that researchers and robotics engineers could use for robotics development. Commercial product engineers used the platform for R&D, but the first generation software was not accessible without advanced development—either by an in-house robotics engineering team, or by an outside integration partner.

This progression towards a more product-focused robot ushered in the second generation of RMP, which resulted from development continuing throughout 2011.

2012–Present: The Second-Generation RMP

Segway introduced the second generation of RMP in 2012. The new platforms incorporated many improvements in the software and other components based on user experience. Provisioning the software on the Segway core platform proved the biggest difference between first generation and second generation RMPs.

The second generation also included additional features:

  • A more robust safety kernel
  • Dedicated software
  • Integrations for Ethernet, USB, etc.
  • Full documentation, which really made it a real product

Segway specifically redesigned RMP so developers could leverage the platforms in commercial applications. The software in the core platform, and development flexibility provided for robotics engineers, brought about a whole new field of potential uses for the RMP.

Segway unveiled the redesigned RMP architecture when they introduced the PUMA (Personal Urban Mobility & Accessibility). This new version personal transporter was faster and had a much longer battery life than a traditional PT, enabling it to go much farther than any of its competitors. It was also enclosed and could carry up to two passengers.

Marathon Targets also implemented the redesigned RMP using the RMP 200 and RMP 400 in training exercises, which enabled soldiers to train with human like moving targets in combat situations.

With all of the new developments in the second generation RMPs, many industries are using the platforms for their applications. Companies in the security industry use RMP bases for patrolling robots; warehouses use them for automation; and many industrial companies use them for “dull, dirty, or dangerous” jobs, such as nuclear facility operations, mining, etc. RMPs can perform dangerous tasks keeping humans out of harms way, and are being used to solve problems across a wide spectrum of industries.

In Process Now: The Third-Generation RMP

As technology continues to evolve, Stanley is now developing the third generation of RMP. Stanley designed the third-generation RMP line to be seamlessly integrated with peripheral technologies, enabling higher-level applications.

The Segway RMP means a shorter dev time, and the ability for product developers to bring a quick-to-market prototype to investors. The core propulsion system is the same system used in the Segway Personal Transporter, which means hundreds of thousands of miles of testing and service locations all over the world.

Segway can also scale to manufacture products at a much higher level than any other robotics manufacturer—with built-in capacity for manufacturing up to 500/week.

Considering an RMP for your next project? Check out our Segway RMPs and contact us to talk about how our engineers can help you with a solution for your application or industry.


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