|The Jiao EN-V model. Click to enlarge.|
GM and its strategic partner Shanghai Automotive Industry Corp. Group (SAIC) unveiled three models of a concept new vehicle form called EN-V, short for Electric Networked-Vehicle. EN-V is a two-seat electric vehicle designed to alleviate concerns surrounding traffic congestion, parking availability, air quality and affordability for tomorrow’s cities. It is an evolution from the platform of the Personal Urban Mobility and Accessibility (P.U.M.A.) prototype that was developed by GM and Segway and which made its debut in April 2009. (Earlier post.)
The three EN-V models unveiled in Shanghai represent three different characteristics that emphasize the nature of future transportation: Jiao (Pride), Miao (Magic) and Xiao (Laugh). The concepts will be showcased from 1 May through 31 October at the SAIC-GM Pavilion at World Expo 2010 Shanghai. Shanghai is expected to become one of the epicenters for the establishment of personal mobility solutions for the future, according to GM.
|EN-V Quick Specs|
Segway has worked collaboratively with GM to develop and deliver multiple copies of the drivetrain platform that seamlessly connect to and power the various EN-Vs. EN-V is propelled by electric motors in each of its two driving-mode wheels. Dynamic stabilization technology empowers EN-V, giving it the unique ability to carry two passengers and light cargo in a footprint that’s about a third of a traditional vehicle. It can literally “turn on a dime” within its own operating envelope.
In addition, everything in EN-V is drive-by-wire, supporting its ability to operate autonomously or under manual control. The motors not only provide power for acceleration, but also bring the vehicle to a stop.
|The Xiao EN-V model. Click to enlarge.|
Power for the motors is provided by lithium-ion batteries that produce zero emissions. Recharging can occur from a conventional wall outlet using standard household power, allowing EN-V to travel at least 40 kilometers (25 miles) on a single charge. EN-V can also improve the efficiency of the public electric infrastructure since the vehicle can communicate with the electric grid to determine the best time to recharge based on overall usage.
EN-V has been designed for the speed and range of today’s urban drivers. It weighs less than 500 kilograms and is about 1.5 meters in length. By comparison, today’s typical automobile weighs more than 1,500 kilograms and is three times as long. In addition, today’s automobiles require more than 10 square meters of parking space and are parked more than 90% of the time. EN-V’s smaller size and greater maneuverability mean the same parking lot can accommodate five times as many EN-Vs as typical automobiles.
|The Miao EN-V model. Click to enlarge.|
Autonomous operation. By combining the Global Positioning System (GPS) with vehicle-to-vehicle communications and distance-sensing technologies, the EN-V concept can be driven both manually and autonomously.
Its autonomous operating capability offers the promise of reducing traffic congestion by allowing EN-V to automatically select the fastest route based on real-time traffic information. The concept also leverages wireless communications to enable a “social network” that can be used by drivers and occupants to communicate with friends or business associates while on the go.
This combination of sensing technology, wireless communication and GPS-based navigation establishes a technology foundation, pieces of which could migrate from the EN-V concept and potentially lead the way to future advanced vehicle safety systems.
The ability to communicate with other vehicles and with the infrastructure could significantly reduce the number of vehicle accidents. Using vehicle-based sensor and camera systems, EN-V can “sense” what’s around it, allowing the vehicle to react quickly to obstacles or changes in driving conditions. For example, if a pedestrian steps out in front of the vehicle, EN-V will decelerate to a slower and safer speed and stop sooner than today’s vehicles.
|“The EN-V concept represents a major breakthrough in the research that GM has been doing to bring vehicle autonomy to life. The building blocks that enable the autonomous capabilities found on the EN-V concept such as lane departure warning, blind zone detection and adaptive cruise control are being used in some GM vehicles on the road today.””|
|—Alan Taub, Global Vice President of GM Research and Development|
GM has been a leader in developing autonomous vehicle technology, having worked alongside students and faculty at Carnegie Mellon University in the US city of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. This collaboration created “The Boss” Chevrolet Tahoe, which brought autonomous vehicle operation to life in 2007. EN-V takes the lessons learned in “The Boss” and offers mobility to people who could not otherwise operate a vehicle.
Smaller, smarter design. For EN-V’s debut, GM had design teams around the world provide their vision of what future mobility will look like. Xiao (Laugh) was designed by GM Holden’s design team in Australia, while the look of Jiao (Pride) was penned by designers at GM Europe and Miao (Magic) was designed at the General Motors Advanced Design Studio in the US state of California.
Each EN-V has a unique design theme to showcase the flexibility of the propulsion platform. The design gives each EN-V its own personality, with a unique opening, interior and color, lighting and seat technology. Xiao offers a more lighthearted appeal, with its “gumball blue” paint and nautical-inspired design. Miao takes most of its design cues from the consumer electronics industry, as evidenced by its sleek looks. Designers also used Miao to display innovative lighting solutions, including extensive use of LED accent lighting. With its clean lines and bright paintwork, Jiao takes its design influence from bullet trains and Chinese opera masks.
EN-V incorporates significant technology and material innovation, which has given the design team a whole new world to explore. Because of the lightweight structures, materials and integrated controls, we created unique surface forms not traditionally found in automotive applications.
—Clay Dean, Director of Advanced Design for GM North America
The body and canopy of EN-V are constructed from carbon fiber, custom-tinted Lexan and acrylic, materials that are more commonly used in race cars, military airplanes and spacecraft because of their strength and lightweight characteristics. The ability to work with such innovative materials provided a learning opportunity for GM’s design teams to study the feasibility of future traditional automotive applications.
Urban corridors. By 2030, urban areas will be home to more than 60% of the world’s 8 billion people. This will put tremendous pressure on a public infrastructure that is already struggling to meet the growing demand for transportation and basic services.
The recently released UN-HABITAT report “State of the World Cities 2010/2011: Bridging the Urban Divide”, also finds that as cities push beyond their original boundaries some are merging into new massive conurbations known as mega-regions, urban corridors and city-regions. These urban configurations are becoming the new engines of global and regional economies, even as they create further paths of regional divisions, according to the report.
Today’s mega-regions are absorbing even larger populations than mega- or meta-cities, (which UN-HABITAT defines as hosting upward of 20 million residents), and their economic output is enormous. Examples cited in the report include:
- Hong Kong-Shenzen-Guangzhou mega-region, 120 million people
- Nagoya-Osaka-Kyoto-Kobe, likely to hold 60 million by 2015
- São Paulo to Rio de Janeiro mega-region, 43 million people
GM is the joint global automobile partner of World Expo 2010 Shanghai along with Shanghai Automotive Industry Corp. Group (SAIC).
UN-HABITAT State of the World’s Cities 2010/2011