• Apr 7, 2009
GM/Segway Project P.U.M.A. - Click above for a high-res gallery

Please hold a moment while we check our calendars. Nope, it's definitely not April 1. That must mean a General Motors tie-up with Segway must be true. The Personal Urban Mobility and Accessibility Project (P.U.M.A. for short) will seek to develop a self balancing two-wheeled vehicle capable of reaching speeds of 35 mph – well above the Segway's 12 mph top speed -- for 35 miles.

Instead of the more common single track of a motorcycle, this electric vehicle will borrow the side-by-side arrangement popularized on the original Segway Personal Transporter. A lithium battery will store enough charge to allow the vehicle to travel for up to 35 miles on a single charge. Another interesting feature is the expected ability for each machine to communicate with vehicles around it, reducing the risk of accidents and regulating the flow of traffic.

Cost isn't yet set, but initial projections would place the total cost of ownership for the two-passenger autonomous vehicle at about a quarter of the price of a traditional automobile. The P.U.M.A. project will make its official debut at the New York Auto Show this week.




PRESS RELEASE

GM and Segway Join Forces to Reinvent Urban Transportation

NEW YORK - General Motors Corp. and Segway today demonstrated a new type of vehicle that could change the way we move around in cities.

Dubbed Project P.U.M.A. (Personal Urban Mobility and Accessibility), GM and Segway are developing an electrically powered, two-seat prototype vehicle that has only two wheels. It could allow people to travel around cities more quickly, safely, quietly and cleanly - and at a lower total cost. The vehicle also enables design creativity, fashion, fun and social networking.

GM and Segway announced their collaboration, while demonstrating the Project P.U.M.A. prototype in New York City this morning.

"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. "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."

Trends indicate that urbanization is growing, and with that comes increased congestion and more competition for parking. Cities around the world are actively looking for solutions to alleviate congestion and pollution. Project P.U.M.A. addresses those concerns. It combines several technologies demonstrated by GM and Segway, including electric drive and batteries; dynamic stabilization (two-wheel balancing); all-electronic acceleration, steering and braking; vehicle-to-vehicle communications; and autonomous driving and parking. Those technologies integrate in Project P.U.M.A. to increase mobility freedom, while also enabling energy efficiency, zero emissions, enhanced safety, seamless connectivity and reduced congestion in cities.

"We are excited to be working together to demonstrate a dramatically different approach to urban mobility," said Jim Norrod, CEO of Segway Inc. "There's an emotional connection you get when using Segway products. The Project P.U.M.A. prototype vehicle embodies this through the combination of advanced technologies that Segway and GM bring to the table to complete the connection between the rider, environment, and others."

Project P.U.M.A. vehicles will also allow designers to create new fashion trends for cars, and to focus on the passion and emotion that people express through their vehicles while creating solutions that anticipate the future needs of urban customers.

The Project P.U.M.A. 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. The result is an advanced and functional concept that demonstrates the capabilities of technology that exists today.

Built to carry two or more passengers, it can travel at speeds up to 35 miles per hour (56 kph), with a range up to 35 miles (56 km) between recharges.

Since the introduction of the Segway Personal Transporter (PT), Segway has established itself as the leader in the small electric vehicle space. Its approach to congestion and environmental challenges is balanced with a strong understanding of the functional needs of its customers, enabling them to do more with less. Segway has delivered more than 60,000 lithium-ion batteries to the market.

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."


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  • 60 Comments
      • 5 Years Ago
      Those back tilt support wheels are terrifying if you incline that far back.
      • 5 Years Ago
      Thank you, the future is finally here. Price this at about 3-5 grand and you have a new movement.
      • 5 Years Ago
      hell naw.
      • 5 Years Ago
      Considering that the most basic Segway retails for around $5000, I'm guessing one that goes almost three times as fast plus all the additional structure would retail for at least double that. I can think of a lot of used cars I'd rather have $10K--and I could probably afford a scooter which gets ~100mpg with the change I had left over when I was done buying my used car.

      But just think of it this way: even if it costs twice as much, if goes three times as fast maybe they'll sell twice as man...oh wait, never mind.
      • 5 Years Ago
      You know, I'm dying to know the budget used for research and development of this thing? I'm sure it is laughable and sad, all at the same time.
      • 5 Years Ago
      This is an interesting concept, and I'd love to have one - in theory. But when you consider actually putting it into production, I become quite thankful not to be a GM stockholder.

      This vehicle might be a clever idea if there were a place to operate it, but where would that be? Sidewalks? No. They couldn't even get the original Segway approved for that in most cities. Too dangerous to pedestrians. City streets as they now exist? Who wants to get hit by a 4000 lb. sedan while riding in this? Okay, so we clear the streets of cars and create a PUMA zone. That's not going to happen for a number of reasons, but it makes more sense than anything else. Even with no cars around, this thing travels at 35 MPH. Does anyone want to hit a stationary barrier at 35 MPH in this? No. Does anyone want to be hit in a side impact crash (zero crash protection there) by another PUMA and two occupants doing 35 MPH? No way.

      Even if these issues could be overcome, and there was demand for this vehicle, does anyone think a company with $60 billion in debt is the right one to produce it?

      Whatever cash GM is wasting on this, they should be investing in developing a competitor to the 50 mpg 2010 Prius. Somehow, I doubt Toyota is worried.
      • 5 Years Ago
      Can't wait for senile old people to move from their motorized wheelchairs and into these.
      • 5 Years Ago
      Throw some D's on that
      • 5 Years Ago
      Segway is a stupid idea as a stand alone, now make it bigger and hold 2? Technology just to be different is ridiculous. Add 1 or 2 wheels and reduce the excessive costs. Dumb. Kamens is a snake oil salesman at best.
      • 5 Years Ago
      I agree with you . your writeinnen is a good.
      • 5 Years Ago
      I would think a golf cart would be more practical and cost less. Throw a electric motor on a Tata Nano and it will be cheaper than this thing.
      • 5 Years Ago
      Make it at the price point the segway should have been ($1000) and we'll talk. Make it 5000 and I just can't see why or how I'd buy it...

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