GM just announced a partnership with Segway and is now showing a prototype of a two-person, two-wheeled electric vehicle capable of 35 MPH with a range of 35 Miles.
According to the Seattle Times:
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 Bedford, N.H.-based maker of electric scooters. "Less emissions, less dependability on foreign oil and less space."
The 300-pound 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 35 miles-per-hour and can run 35 miles on a single charge.
A reporter from CNN got to ride in one as a passenger.
During a test ride - for now, only trained drivers are allowed to operate the prototype vehicle - the PUMA transporter felt perfectly stable. Other than the fact that it can rotate while standing in place, it felt similar to riding in a small car at slow speeds.
As he pushed the steering wheel, the vehicle leaned gently forward and trundled off to the end of a blocked off section of Manhattan's West 18th street. When we reached the end of the street, the driver pulled back on the steering wheel and the car stopped, staying balanced on its two wheels. He then turned the wheel rotating the booth-shaped car 180 degrees and off we went in the other direction, steering to avoid hitting our CNN cameraman.
Only when the vehicle prepared to park did it feel a bit unnerving, as the vehicle leaned forward to settle onto its extra set of small front wheels.
I can't help but wonder if things like this are the reason GM is about to go bankrupt, or if failing to do this kind of things over the past 20 years is why they are on the brink of bankruptcy. It's probably some combination of the two.
This kind of vehicle does sound like it can have a plac3e in the modern transportation infrastructure. The question remains, though, whether the buraucracy of GM is even capable of bringing something like this to market, of it is all just some last ditch PR effort.