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GM And Segway Partner on Urban Personal Mobility Electric Vehicle

The Project P.U.M.A prototype takes a test drive in New York. Click to enlarge.

General Motors Corp. and Segway are unveiling a new type of personal mobility vehicle targeted for city use. Under “Project P.U.M.A.” (Personal Urban Mobility and Accessibility), GM and Segway are developing an electrically powered, two-seat prototype urban vehicle that has only two wheels.

Project P.U.M.A. combines technologies developed and 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.

Trends indicate that urbanization is growing, and with that comes increased congestion and pollution. The Project P.U.M.A. technologies increase mobility freedom, while also enabling energy efficiency, zero emissions, enhanced safety, seamless connectivity and reduced congestion in cities.

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 km/h), with a range up to 35 miles (56 km) between recharges.

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. 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.

—Larry Burns, GM vice president of research and development, and strategic planning

Since the introduction of the Segway Personal Transporter (PT), Segway has established itself as the leader in the small electric vehicle space, and delivered more than 60,000 lithium-ion batteries to the market.

GM has been focusing on “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. 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.

—Larry Burns



An electric scooter would be better, mainly because it is narrower and can get through traffic better.
This has no benefit over a car - it will still get stuck in traffic. It may have a roof, but I would trade that for a narrower vehicle that can move through traffic better.

Segway makes my blood boil - it is such a gratuitous use of technology - a simple (pedal) bike is better and was more or less perfected 120 years before the Segway.

If you want to add technology, by all means make a LiOn scooter - this would have real benefits in terms of pollution and traffic congestion, but this side by side thing solves nothing.

Phew! - I am gald I got that out of my system - I'll take a walk now.


GM management must be smoking Crack. That's the only thing that can explain this.


Finally batteries are being used for applications which match their capabilities.

Miniature golf carts with advanced electronics.

Will S

This is a dead end. I see it being used on a sidewalk, which is a nuisance to pedestrians. And it doesnt' look like it will spend much time on the road, so there may not be a real place for this vehicle.

A scooter or bike with electric hubs would work much better, and the step up would be a scooter with a roof, like a BMW C1.


I've ridden a Segway before. At 12 miles/hour they feel like you're taking a bit of a chance. Have any of you seen those YouTube videos of people on Segway's wiping out? It usually happens when one wheel bumps into something that causes it to slow (even the wheel of an adjacent Segway), but the other wheel does not.

At 12 mph wipeouts are not good. At 35 mph, even with a slight cage and a seat belt, well it seems pretty hazardous. This has the larger drive wheels, perhaps a lower center of mass from the sitting position, and the little training wheels in the front and back, and a small front bumper, but the people build up a lot of energy at 35 mph. I wonder how the crash test dummy will feel?

This may be better than a golf cart from an energy efficiency perspective, because it looks like a higher percentage of the structure weight is batteries. I guess another question to ask is how would this compare to an eletric 4-wheel ATV (which would be much lower tech)?


Put in two sets of pedals, extend the front of the vehicle with an aerodynamic shell. Make them able to train together and you have an instant bus.


I'd be interested in knowing how mahonj and Will S. propose having a scooter balance itself for autonomous vehicle driving having a narrow body with wheels in line...


As a mechanical engineer I can see an easy way to extend the range and cut the cost by 2/3: Add a third or fourth wheel and dump the gyroscopes.

The two wheel thing is a marketing gimmick. It appeals to people. God knows why, maybe we are attracted to anything that can stand upright like us.

It's a weebo on wheels.



Who really needs this?


Autonomous vehicle driving will be difficult enough with 4 wheels. Trying to do it with 2 is insane (side by side or inline).

Note also, from the image that the wheelbarrow has in fact got 4 wheels in a diamond configuration.

Why not make it a tricycle if you really want to do it?
Or a quadricycle?
Or, perhaps a small electric car.
Like a Smart?

or a scooter, like a Vectrix.


GM should be more concerned with staying in business than to spend time on this.


Exit Rick Wagoner, enter Larry Burns, one more loser in a long line of propped-up patsy loser sellouts. Who is this Fritz Henderson but another hard sell, busy body bamboozeling the public with Madison Avenue marketing insanity? "All you need, my friends, is GM's Northstar GPS, and giant video reality cranes will appear to lift the inconvenient traffic out of your way. Buy a magic bean motorcar today. No money down. Easy terms, low interest. You won't get laid without one."


I've seen similar but other (than Segway) mobility wheelchair capable of stair climbing that while exe was a very useful application of this technology.

More for Exhibition venues where people cant ride and chew gum or sit and chat with passenger.

One can appreciate these as an exercise in the possible and study of two legged balance but may not be yet road ready.


GM management must be smoking Crack. That's the only thing that can explain this."

Except umm, GM management is the Obama Administration.

Will S

Patrick asks;
>I'd be interested in knowing how mahonj and Will S. propose having a scooter balance itself

I've never known a scooter to be self-balancing, so this question is puzzling. If you want to see streets filled with scooters, go to Rome, Florence, etc. If people have a medical condition that interferes with their balance, then they can drive a MiEV, Aptera, Loremo, etc.


No, what is puzzling is how you think this should be a scooter when obviously it is not.

"Allow me to introduce my vertical takeoff propeller driven craft. I call it a helicopter." - some project planner or marketing person

"You should have given it wings and propellers on the front of the wings, it would get better fuel efficiency." - Will S.

Yes, this is pretty much how the conversation went with your first comment. Completely missing the fact that they already have vehicles as you describe and this is for a different market, but ah - "ignorance is bliss"...

Will S

Patrick, you've missed the point completely. No doubt this will have a success story similar to the first Segway...

paul in hampden

The problem with two wheels side by side balancing is there is a real limit to breaking. If you break too hard the vehicle tumbles forward. You can break but only so fast. At 12mph that does not matter too much, at 35mph its crazy!


So is this thing for the road?
Not on you life..

In the picture it is on an empty plaza, not on the road.
Of course !
It will work fine on the sidewalks.
It will get you here to there about ten times faster.

What about pedestrians you ask?
I'll tell you - You think Segway's are threatening.?
When these things populate the sidewalks, driven by cell phone texting airheads, there will be no pedestrians.
Survival of the fittest.


Personally, I think this is a stroke of genius. The federal government and many states like Michigan are investing heavily in BEV tech. Where is the biggest demand for something like this going to be? America? Maybe...kind of. Europe? More than America but still not as much as INDIA and CHINA. These can be made in the USA and shipped west very easily. These will also be very popular at trendy golf courses. I think it's brilliant...the PUMA needs some tweaking (maybe some wider tires & suspension improvements) but it's a great concept, especially for heavily urbanized environments.



Yes this looks like a rickshaw sans runner, but no the Chinese and Indian markets will not pay what Segway would have to charge for the PUMA.

I think it's a really good point that decelerating is a trick in these gyro single-axle vehicles, and that it makes certain assumptions about being able to brake and lean back at the same time to avoid tipping over. That is not conducive to panic stops. I also wonder how they do with potholes and curbs?


IMHO GM is using this as a publicity stunt. "Look, we made a BEV and nobody would buy it, so we don't need to build any more of them."

They might be able to sell a few, but I'd be amazed if it ever recouped the money designing and building the prototype. I'd much rather ride a bicycle.


I think mark's on to something here. I remember when GM had the EV1, they actually DE-promoted it to reduce the number of people who wanted to buy it. Now they've got an BEV nobody would buy and they're going to promote it bigtime so they can say "Look, we made a BEV and nobody would buy it, so we don't need to build any more of them."


When you read about the EV1 you see several hybrid models with range extenders. It is not like they had not thought of it.



That those hybrid models could have solved the so-called problems GM had with the EV1 only goes to show how much they didn't want the car on the roads.

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