Government Motors, Segway Unveil Goofy People Mover

puma-parked

It looks like Government Motors is partnering with Segway to potentially bring to market what appears to me to be a completely useless piece of machinery. What’s that old saying, just because you can doesn’t always mean you should?

This thing is called, for now, a PUMA which translates into Personal Urban Mobility and Accessibility and is intended to help people move around congested city streets? sidewalks? bikelanes? ok I give up I don’t know where you are supposed to drive this thing.

If someone is crazy enough to ride around in one of these things in a congested city they are sure to get run over in the street, cussed out and beat up on the sidewalk and ticketed in the bikelane so what do you do with your brand spanking new PUMA, strap it on the back of your Expedition?

According to a Government Motors press release the PUMA is designed to carry two people and “the prototype vehicle integrates a lithium-ion battery, digital smart energy management, two-wheel balancing, dual electric wheel motors, and a dockable user interface that allows off-board connectivity.” Those twin electric motors can power the vehicle up to 35 mph and the range between recharges is said to be 35 miles but it isn’t clear if that range is attainable at the top speed.

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Don’t get me wrong if everybody was driving around in one of these things I’m sure it would work out swimmingly but the fact of the matter is that will not happen, unless of course Dear Reader orders all of us to purchase and drive one. GM’s plans include interconnectivity among the vehicles which would ostensibly keep these things from running into each other and hopefully other things like fire hydrants, light poles, small children and parked Chevys.

GM has been a leader in “connected vehicle” technologies since it introduced OnStar in 1996. Today, this on-board communications package connects six million subscribers in North America to OnStar safety and security services. GM has also pioneered vehicle-to-vehicle (V2V) communications systems and transponder technology. These and additional connected vehicle technologies could ultimately enable vehicles that don’t crash and drive themselves.

“Imagine moving about cities in a vehicle fashioned to your taste, that’s fun to drive and ride in, that safely takes you where you want to go, and “connects” you to friends and family, while using clean, renewable energy, producing zero vehicle tailpipe emissions, and without the stress of traffic jams,” said Burns. “And imagine doing this for one-fourth to one-third the cost of what you pay to own and operate today’s automobile. This is what Project P.U.M.A. is capable of delivering.”

Back when times were swell and people were rolling in dough, you know before Obama came along, surely many folks would have snagged one of these just for the “hey look at how cool we are” factor as they cruised around down by the Colorado River. Unemployment figures continue to rise, the stock market continues to tank and many people are fighting just to hang on to their houses so the timing of the PUMA couldn’t have been worse. Three or four years ago it may have had just enough wow to make a buck or two for the shareholders…today, well post November 5, 2008, not so much.

This entry was posted in Technology.

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