Segway PUMA: Would You Enter Traffic With This Two-Wheeler?
Photo of the Segway GM PUMA via Reuters.
The Segway Personal Transporter two-wheeler never quite caught on as its creators may have hoped (although Chicago cops, for example, do look impressive when tooling down the street), and now ailing auto manufacturer GM has teamed with the Segway group to work on another prototype concept vehicle..the Personal Urban Mobility and Accessibility project, or PUMA for short. As reported in the Wall Street Journal, the PUMA's "car-like traits" - an enclosed compartment and the ability to travel up to 35 miles per hour - will help make the vehicle, due in 2012, more popular, GM believes. PUMA People-Moving PodThe New York Times contributor Jim Motavalli calls the PUMA a people-moving pod. For that segment of the population that needs mobility on a small scale, P.U.M.A. promises 25 miles of travel on a single charge. As Motavalli reports, Jim Burns, GM's vice-president for research and development and strategic planning, imagines Singapore as a possible first market for the PUMA - a dense urban setting where an electric rickshaw could fill multiple mobility needs.
NEVs not popular, yetWhile designers continue to be fascinated with the concept of individual pods, and some cities are integrating planning for pod infrastructures into their transport schemes, neighborhood electric vehicles (NEVs for short) have made little indent in the overall vehicle market, according to Motavalli.
Bike with electric boost a better option?That's hardly surprising, as European cities such as Amsterdam and Copenhagen have demonstrated that for trips of less than 7 kilometers, the bicycle already does a fantastic job of meeting a big portion of mobility needs. For above 7 kilometers, many people want to a) transport more than one person, generally small children, and b) need space to get goods such as groceries, home supplies, and furniture back to their homes. P.U.M.A. won't fulfill any of these needs.
Still, two aspects of the PUMA are interesting. The first is that it sends a signal that GM also believes the world is heading towards smaller vehicles.
"We were the S.U.V. company and we accept that," Burns told the Times. "We want to become the U.S.V. company - known for ultra-small vehicles."
In addition, PUMA is reported to use GM's OnStar technology for "vehicle to vehicle" communications, allowing vehicles within a .25 mile radius to communicate with each other (and hopefully) avoid collisions - "autonomous driving" is how GM described it. I really hope my bike will have a little of that OnStar magic if these 300-pound PUMAs actually do make it on to the road. Via: AutoBlogGreenRead more about Segway, pod carsAbu Dhabi to Debut Personal Rapid Transit Podcars Later This YearBeijing's Olympic Security Forces Drive...Segways?Santa Cruz, Ithaca, Sweden Consider Pod-Car Transport SystemsThe Pod Cars Are ComingCan Pod Cars Replace the Automobile?