Hoping to take personal transportation to an entirely new and novel level, General Motors and Segway have teamed up to create a two-passenger electric two-wheeler aimed at allowing city dwellers to travel about more quickly, safely, quietly, cleanly and cheaply than in any kind of conventional or unconventional passenger car. Developed under Project P.U.M.A.(Personal Urban Mobility and Accessibility), this petite one-off incorporates a host of techno tricks already under development by one or both partners, including a sophisticated electric drive system that uses Lithium-ion batteries, dynamic gyro-stabilization, full drive-by wire controls, wireless vehicle-to-vehicle communications and autonomous driving and parking capabilities.
"Project P.U.M.A. represents a unique solution to moving about and interacting in cities, where more than half of the world's people live," said Larry Burns, GM vice president of research and development, and strategic planning following a demonstration run on the streets of New York City. "Imagine small, nimble electric vehicles that know where other moving objects are and avoid running into them. Now, connect those vehicles in an Internet-like web and you can greatly enhance the ability of people to move through cities, find places to park and connect to their social and business networks." Burns says the Project P.U.M.A. prototype can reach 35 mph and travel 35 miles between recharges. While Project P.U.M.A. would have to pass through at least several rather formidable reality checkpoints before advancing beyond the experimental stage, it does offer an interesting alternative to even the smallest existing traditional four-wheel transport modules.