Segway, maker of the famous (and oft-ridiculed) two-wheeled vehicles, has been acquired by a Chinese robotics company, The Wall Street Journal reports. Beijing-based Ninebot said in a news conference today that it purchased its US rival for an undisclosed sum, adding that it received an $80 million investment from Xiaomi and Sequoia Capital, a venture capital firm.
Ninebot was accused of infringing Segway's patents
The Segway was first unveiled in 2001, with inventor Dean Kamen predicting that his two-wheeled, upright electric scooter would revolutionize transportation. Instead, it became more of a punchline, though the Segway has inspired imitators — including Ninebot, which also makes two-wheeled "personal transportation robots." Last year, Segway accused Ninebot and several other Chinese companies of infringing on its patents, as part of what the company described as a "widespread pattern of infringement" across China.
Segway's ownership has changed hands over the years, as the company struggled to make profits. In 2009, it was sold to a group led by British millionaire Jimi Heselden, who died after riding a Segway off a cliff in 2010.