Urban Transport

GM and Segway Join forces to reinvent urban transportation

GM and Segway Join forces to r...
Project PUMA - Segway meets car
Project PUMA - Segway meets car
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PUMA - top speed of 35 mph
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PUMA - top speed of 35 mph
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Effectively a two-seat electric wheel chair
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Effectively a two-seat electric wheel chair
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Drive-by-wire for acceleration, steering, and braking
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An early prototype sketch of the Puma
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April 8, 2009 Straight out of left field, General Motors and personal mobility pioneer Segway have revealed a two-wheel, two-seater prototype vehicle they’ve code named Project P.U.M.A (Personal Urban Mobility and Accessibility). The self-balancing electric “car” is designed to transport two adults in a seated position, and can travel up to 25 and 35 miles (40 - 56 km) powered by large format lithium-ion batteries on as little as $0.60 worth of electricity.

The 300 lb (136 kg) zero-emissions vehicle has a top speed of 35 mph (56kph) and is powered by two electric wheel motors. The control system is based on the original Segway with dynamic balancing and drive-by-wire for acceleration, steering, and braking. It also features vehicle-to-vehicle communications, digital smart energy management and a dockable user interface that allows off-board connectivity.

The PUMA will be on display this week at the GM stand of the New York Auto Show. Pricing wasn't announced but is expected to be one-fourth to one-third the cost of what you pay to own and operate today's automobile. GM said it hopes to have the vehicle in production by 2012. The Segway Personal Transporter debuted with great fanfare in 2001, and has found a niche market, but failed to "be to the car what the car was to the horse and buggy," as its inventor, Dean Kamen, predicted. We're not sure that what is effectively a two seater electric wheel chair with a roll cage will fair any better but it's encouraging to see GM actively working on electric vehicles with wheel motors and drive-by-wire automated dynamic controls. It will be interesting to see if those developments are incorporated into more conventional GM electric vehicles in the future.

Paul Evans

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6 comments
robinyatesuk2003
this is the ugliest idea I have ever seen,,,,,,,,,,,,,,, no westener will buy one surely ?,,,,,,,although I am a great fan of EV, this is awful to look at
Will, the tink
Oh, I don\'t think it\'s ugly! Here\'s what has my goat though. 37 pictures of happy, smiling riders and company execs standing beside it so proudly but no video showing just how it handles at speed! If you can go 35mph in this thing, what happens when someone pulls out in front of you requiring an emergency stop? What happens when you need to switch directions real fast? And lastly, anyone notice the height of that \"protective\" sidebar? I would think a person would want that bar a little lower, not neck height! Lastly, why two wheels (with plenty of training wheels front/back)? Just to show you can do it? I would prefer a third wheel out back making it a tadpole trike. You could caster the third wheel and still steer electronically through the two front wheels.
P.E.T.
This is a prototype. Take a look at the concept vehicles they came out with in the Shanghhai 2010 Expo: the EN-V. You can see them on my website: www.petsolutiononline.com My belief is that we need physically separated thruways for these types of personal transporters, including these PUMAs, Segway PTs, etc. My book, the PET Solution explains my belief that if we provide these types of non-car modes of transport, many more urban travelers will get out of their gas-guzzling cars for at least 30% of their urban trips. Take a look at my website and you\'ll understand the concept. Randy
Calson
What a joke with more than a touch of irony. It was General Motors along with Firestone Tire and Standard Oil that conspired after World War II to create a company to buy all the city light rail systems across the country and rip out the tracks to convert the electric trolly cars to gas powered buses and they purposely gave up the rights of way to make it prohibitively expensive for less corrupt politicians to go back to light rail with its coaches with their steel wheels and electricity powered motors. This is all green washing and it demonstrates once again the lack of vision on the part of the engineers running Segway. They simply do not know what they do not know.
Robert Gillis
Technology is progressing rapidly, but it all has to be consistent with the human element and conditions prevailing. Handling and safety is certain to be an issue, among many other concerns. There is little doubt that the question of reliable and economic transportation will be with us, but until concerns related to safety in all aspects, including public liability, will have to be reliably established before total acceptance by the public and transportation standards and regulators allow certification and licensing. In heavily populated developing countries, these kinds and modes of transportation enjoy greater lassitude in terms of regulations simply due to immediate necessity imposed by conditions prevailing including, cultural needs and general economics. In western cultural settings, these innovative approaches will gain acceptance only if they meet regulatory use standards in all aspects!
Ct
I sent Segway an email 6 years ago suggesting they move into this market and they said no.