[Offtopic] GM two seater segway, with GPS self-drive
stephen at melbpc.org.au
stephen at melbpc.org.au
Thu Apr 9 05:04:40 EST 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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