The Chengdu police's brand new fleet of personal transportation vehicles debuted at Chunxi Lu pedestrian street last week.
They travel at 5, 10, or 20 kmph, and, according to Jinjiang District police captain Liu Hu, shorten the time it takes for a police officer to go from the Isetan to the Central Plaza to 20 or 30 seconds, compared to one to two minutes on foot. Liu also noted that the officers' range of vision would be expanded because they would be 30 cm elevated from their usual height.
In a speed and agility test, the Segway-esque vehicles fared much better than electric scooters; the former needed only 15 seconds to complete a course with sharp turns while the latter required 2 minutes and 23 seconds, noted a Chengdu Daily reporter.
The 10 vehicles are meant to be part of the security plan for the three-day Fortune Global Forum that will be held in Chengdu in June.
The vehicles are also outfitted with maps, first-aid supplies, and children's toys so that officers can assist citizens with directions and first aid and soothe lost children.
Reader comments on QQ's microblogging feed showed little enthusiasm. Comments ranged from the snarky ("They look like Ultraman!") to the outright critical ("How much can 30 cm really increase their range of vision?" and "What a waste of taxpayer money.")
Such vehicles, which are reportedly a Chinese-produced version of the Segway, have been in use in other cities in China, notably Jinan.