Q: Last year at the Mankato air show, the Public Safety Department demonstrated and used a fancy “Segway” type personal transporter. Around that same time, the Free Press highlighted them in an article. I had assumed we would see more of them at Riverfront Park events or other events held in a contained area. I haven’t seen them since the air show. What was the cost to the city for these machines? What happened to them and why do they seem to have disappeared?
A: The vehicles weren’t Segways — which is unfortunate, as it turns out. They were Sentinels, produced by Xtreme Green Products of Las Vegas. Like the Segway, the driver stands while operating the electric vehicle. Police thought the whisper-quiet Sentinels would be good for patrolling downtown, in neighborhoods that had been experiencing burglary or vandalism sprees, and at large public gatherings.
Unlike the Segway, the Sentinels have three wheels. And in the case of one of the two purchased by the Mankato Department of Public Safety for $9,000 each, the vehicle would stop dead without warning, according to Public Safety Director Todd Miller.
Repeated efforts to get Xtreme Green to replace the vehicles were unsuccessful.
”I don’t know if they’re still in business,” Miller said.
The department recently turned the vehicles over to the city Public Works Department to make repairs, and Miller is optimistic the local mechanics will get the machines working in a reliable way.
”I’m hoping to have them available for the Fourth of July,” he said.
Ask Us attempted to reach Xtreme Green for comment, but the company didn’t respond to messages left on the company voice mail Thursday and Friday. The most recent news updates on the company website were late in 2011 and the most recent posts by others on the Xtreme Green Facebook page were “are you guys still in business?” and “Is the company still in business ... ?”