[LINK] GM two seater segway?

stephen at melbpc.org.au stephen at melbpc.org.au
Thu Apr 9 03:31:57 AEST 2009

April 7, 2009

A solution to the world's urban transportation problems could lie in two 
wheels not four, according to executives for General Motors  and Segway.


The companies announced on Tuesday that they are working together to 
develop a two-wheeled, two-seat electric vehicle designed to be a fast, 
safe, inexpensive and clean alternative to traditional cars and trucks 
for cities across the world.

The Personal Urban Mobility and Accessibility, or PUMA, project also 
would involve a vast communications network that would allow vehicles to 
interact with each other, regulate the flow of traffic and prevent 
crashes from happening.

"We're excited about doing more with less," said Jim Norrod, chief 
executive of Segway, the maker of electric scooters. "Less emissions, 
less dependability on foreign oil and less space."

The 136 kg prototype runs on a lithium-ion battery and uses Segway's 
characteristic two-wheel balancing technology, along with dual electric 
motors. It's designed to reach speeds of up to 56 kmh and can run 56 km 
on a single charge.

The companies did not release a projected cost for the vehicle, but said 
ideally its total operating cost — including purchase price, insurance, 
maintenance and fuel — would total between one-fourth and one-third of 
that of the average traditional vehicle.

Larry Burns, GM's vice president of research and development, and 
strategic planning, said the project is part of GM's effort to remake 
itself as a purveyor of fuel-efficient vehicles. If Hummer took GM to the 
large-vehicle extreme, Burns said, the PUMA takes GM to the other.

Ideally, the vehicles would also be part of a communications network that 
through the use of transponder and GPS technology would allow them to 
drive themselves. The vehicles would automatically avoid obstacles such 
as pedestrians and other cars and therefore never crash, Burns said.

As a result, the PUMA vehicles would not need air bags or other 
traditional safety devices and include safety belts for "comfort 
purposes" only, he said.

Though the technology and its goals may seem like something out of 
science fiction, Burns said nothing new needs to be invented for it to 
become a reality.

"At this point, it's merely a business decision," he said.

Burns said that while putting that kind of communications infrastructure 
in place may still be a ways off for many American cities, the automaker 
is looking for a place, such as a college campus, where the vehicles 
could be put to use and grab a foothold in the market.

There's currently no timeline for production, Burns said.


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