PUMA prototype

PUMA prototype

At the New York Auto Show, GM and Segway released their combined efforts on a project called PUMA.  Together they released a prototype vehicle that they believe could signify the future of transportation.

P.U.M.A. stands for Personal Urban Mobility and Accessibility.  The project was to build a personal transportation device that was networked together and autonomous.  The end result is a prototype that virtually drives itself and could be a fit for urban city dwellers. 

The vehicle looks like a high tech wheelchair for two.  It is powered by dual electric motors and paired with lithium ion battery packs.  Project PUMA is capable of traveling up to 35 miles on a single charge and can reach a top speed of 35 mph. 

GM took their work efforts on electric vehicles and their vehicle to vehicle communications system and combined that with Segway's technology that allows a two wheeled vehicle to move in a balanced, predictable nature.  The outcome is a vehicle that could provide personal transportation one day in the future and has the ability to drive, park, avoid traffic jams, and communicate with other vehicles all without the help of a driver.

GM insists that the cost of ownership of project PUMA is lower than an average vehicle.  But the costs of production would likely be too high to make such a vehicle profitable. 

Project PUMA may appeal to those in densely packed cities as an alternative to walking, or riding a bike to work, but it would not function well as your only car.  PUMA is more of a businessman's bicycle than a blue collar worker's econocar.

Source:  The Car Connection