By Ed Oswald | Tuesday, April 7, 2009 at 12:11 pm
Most of us will remember the incredible buzz surrounding the launch of the original Segway. Well the company is at it again, this time teaming with struggling automaker GM on a two-person seated device being dubbed “Project PUMA.”
While its not the way out of bankruptcy for GM, it certainly shows that the company is continuing to look for innovative ways to advance its business. Teaming with Segway is obviously one way that can be done.
The device is much faster than the Segway HT’s, allowing for a top speed of 25 to 35 mph over a range of up to 35 miles. It is maneuverable in much the same way the HT was, through dynamic stabilization, and produces zero emissions as it runs completely off of an on-board lithium-ion battery.
On-board controls would provide information on speed, battery charge, traffic and other information, which would be detachable in the form of a PDA for off-vehicle use.
In a Jetsons-like move, GM and Segway will also test vehicle-to-vehicle communications and sensors to detect objects and obstacles, allowing for automated driving while the driver can perform other tasks. This would also make it impossible to crash.
While some may ask what GM is doing risking itself on an unproven market, executives told USA Today that the partnership predated the bailouts by about a year and a half.
Still, you can’t fault the company for at least attempting to innovate. No pricing was immediately announced. GM said it hopes to start production on the PUMA in 2012. Tests of the device would first take place in New York City, the two companies said.