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219 Design has a special interest in last mile transportation, having worked on both scooter and bike solutions. In this teardown, we explore the possibilities for the Segway Drift W1 e-Skates. These skates are the latest innovation from Segway, the company that brought us self balancing personal transportation. They’re like mini-hoverboards for each foot. Currently selling for $389 on Amazon with a battery life of about 45 minutes, a top speed of 7.5mph, and a weight of 7.7lbs, could these skates be a last mile solution? Let’s find out!
Here are the areas of interest we’re exploring for this teardown:
1. Toy or Transportation – Are the skates durable enough to be a last mile transportation solution?
2. Short Run vs. Mass Market Product – Are these skates designed to be mass produced?
3. Max Payload Justification – What features drive the weight limit of 220lbs?
With the exception of the chassis, all the castings use simple molds without side actions, reducing the tooling costs and improving mold cycle times. Once out of the molds, two castings required no post-process machining; the chassis requires only simple tapping to finish the part; and a lathe can finish the motor end caps in one fixturing. A good deal of design effort went into optimizing these parts for manufacture, an effort that pays off only at larger production runs. A shorter production run would have seen some of these components machined from stock to keep tooling and design costs low.
The hall effect sensors are a customized version, with insulation and extra long leads, requiring close coordination with the sensor manufacturer. Also, their distance from the the board likely required hand soldering. Together, these elements require close coordination with the electronics supply chain.
Last mile E-transport is dominated by a small set of off-the-shelf motors. These were custom designed for the Segway e-Skates to achieve a high torque within the limits of the wheel hub, with its unusual smaller diameter and larger length.
Taken together, these parts show a pattern of deeper design for manufacturing and an intention by the manufacturer to produce these skates in larger quantities.
Segway has tooled their assembly line at a level that is only justified for larger-scale production.
Both motor bearings are pressed into interference fits. The high forces in such a fit require a press and tooling to achieve bearing alignment and smooth rolling.
The threaded end of the motor shaft is hollow to pass through wires, which would interfere with a traditional socket that could tighten the nut. Assembly requires a special wrench to achieve the correct torque.
The main body part has several areas with selective powder coating. This process is generally cost-effective at larger quantities, as it requires at least one, likely a few, masking fixtures, and careful application of the powder coating.
Max payload is probably set by maximum torque: The motor’s not strong enough to get 220lbs + up a slope.
The cast metal chassis, with its ribbing around the axel seat and arched internal structure, steel drive axle, and wheel hub are certainly strong enough to stand up to higher loads.
The top plate transmits loads from the rider’s feet to In our estimate, the structure is not a limiting factor.
A close look at the parts of the Segway Drift W1 e-Skates suggests that they can be a transportation tool, intended to be made on a large scale.
Metal, rather than plastic, forms all load-carrying components, and they added several parts to improve ride quality over long distances. The motor was designed specifically for this application, and some effort was put in o optimizing its efficiency. Many parts were also tooled and designed to minimize machining steps.
Taken together, this leads us to believe that Segway intends for their Drift W1 e-Skates to last a long time as a real transportation option.