GM and Segway’s New PUMA Project in Action

by Benjamin Jones on April 8, 2009


The other day when I first saw the P.U.M.A., a combination of efforts between GM and Segway, I was skeptical. Who would want to buy this ugly, awkward, and flimsy excuse for a car? Even though it was electric, I didn’t think it was much of a vehicle and didn’t think it would go anywhere.

Well, after seeing it in person today, I must say my tune has changed a little bit. Not only is the little EV quiet and quick, but it operates smoothly and deftly. There is no question that this vehicle will be good at what it is intended to do.

Not only that, but GM is working on the technology to allow these vehicles to network with each other, allowing them to travel together in sync without driver input. This could lead to self-driving transportation pods that eliminate the driver completely.

However, safety is still an issue. If the above networking model is put into place, accidents might not be such an issue. Until then, it is still troublesome to imagine this kind of vehicle in an accident. Besides being incredibly small, I doubt the PUMA could remain balanced during an accident, putting the occupant at risk of serious injury.

As you can see in the video above, all they currently have is a driving prototype. In the coming months we will see an electric vehicle with a full body and more safety features.

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1 theunchosen April 19, 2009 at 8:05 pm

This is literally a segway with a box and a seat.

When he turns it becomes painfully apparent the controls are the exact same “lean” method of inducing the car to go.

It will be more aero friendly than a person on a segway, but its alot heavier and as you get towards lower and lower total weight the 100 lb addition gets to be alot more of a 20% increase or reduction in FE.

The addition of that weight to the normal segway pack probably cut range down by at least 10%, while the aero gains are small to be had since its obviously not going to get up to tremendous speeds.

I would gamble your odds for survival are lower than those of a motorcycle. Motorcycle allows you to go rag doll and dissipate energy over a range. This thing all your KE is going to convert to pain against that front/rear screen after your body traveling 6 inches to a foot. Look at Moto GP wrecks at 100+. 100+ in that and your tire goes away and you are dead.

2 Benjamin Jones April 19, 2009 at 8:14 pm

The thing you see in question there is not the final model. It incorporates absolutely no safety features. That doesn’t mean they intend to have none in the final product, but that right now they’re still at the proof of concept stage.

The is different from the Segway in that it will carry multiple passenger on the street, and will not necessarily require active driving. The fact that it uses the same technology as the Segway uses makes since, sense the Segway works well and the technology is perfectly suited to this kind of vehicle.

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