Segway trikeThis Segway comes with an extra wheel.

You may recall the feverish hype in 2001 when a mysterious product code-named "Ginger" was unveiled as the Segway, a two-wheel vehicle that couldn't possibly live up the breathless speculation that preceded it. It turned out to be a neat, self-balancing creation, which set it far apart from all the scooters and other personal transportation devices already on the market.

segwayse3.jpgVroom vroom.

Segway may not have changed the world, but the company has steadily pumped out the distinctive two-wheelers that are operated by standing drivers. Now, however, Segway has made the interesting move of welcoming a third wheel into the family. The Segway SE-3 Patroller is a trikelike version of its older sibling, with one wheel in the front and two in the back.

Why in the world would a company built on the back of two self-balancing wheels suddenly take a turn for the tame? It's because Segway knows who its biggest customers are. They aren't the Segway-polo-playing elite. It's police agencies and security businesses that place the big orders. Segway notes that over 1,500 police departments and public safety organizations already use Segway vehicles. Indeed, the last time I saw a Segway was in the parking lot at a Target as a security guard zipped around keeping an eye on the cars.

The electric SE-3 comes with a suggested price of $11,999. It's designed to be more visible, even when it's just sitting around in park, to act as a deterrent to criminal activity. Segway is promoting it as an option for personnel who need to constantly stop and get off on foot. It also comes with emergency lights and a siren.

The SE-3 features some interesting tech under the hood. It incorporates a rider-detection technology that kills the motors when a rider isn't on board. For now, the standing trike is just for the public-safety market. You probably won't see Steve Wozniak zipping around on one anytime soon. Still, I can imagine a future when someday we'll move from Segway polo to three-wheeled Segway chariot races.