Can PUMA Really Transform Urban Transportation?

Apr 07, 2009 by Miranda Marquit weblog
This is GM's attempt at an alternative vehicle?

(PhysOrg.com) -- With a June 1 deadline for settling its differences with creditors and unions looming for GM, the American automaker unveiled a joint project with Segway.

Segway, the personal motorized scooter and a general source of amusement, is developing a two-seater with GM. The plan is to create an inexpensive mode of "urban transportation". The new vehicle will be called PUMA -- Personal Urban Mobility and Accessibility.

The idea is interesting: A tiny, 600-pound vehicle that seats two (and has two main wheels). It is supposed to be powered by batteries, so will be low. However, this urban transport device is strictly for city driving only; it's top speed is about 35 miles per hour. You should be able to go 35 miles on a single three-hour charge that is estimated to cost about 35 cents. There seems to be a recurring theme...

PUMA is not going to be released anytime soon, though. Segway and GM are aiming for a 2012 release of the product, which will come equipped with GM's OnStar service. This service isn't meant just to automatically contact OnStar in the event that your tiny PUMA is mangled. PUMA -- according to GM and Segway -- will be designed with OnStar help to prevent collisions and avoid congested routes. GM is actually claiming that PUMA will offer "autonomous driving and parking".

Of course, GM has to get through its current problems before it can move on. However, if GM is hanging its future hopes on PUMA as its main "alternative" vehicle offering, perhaps the company should just give up. After all, there are already scooters, mopeds and bicycles that already do what the PUMA can. Although, in defense of the PUMA, it does appear that it would be more comfortable on a rainy day.

More information: www.segway.com/puma/

© 2009 PhysOrg.com

Explore further: Entrepreneur builds a sleek ship, but will anyone buy it?

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

What farmers think about GM crops

Feb 24, 2008

Farmers are upbeat about genetically modified crops, according to new research funded by the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC).

Mali farmers don't want GM crops

Jan 31, 2006

Mali farmers say they don't want trials of genetically modified crops to begin in their nation -- the fourth poorest country in the world.

Some GM crops legal in the U.K.

Aug 08, 2005

Genetically modified crops can reportedly be grown in Britain without farmers having to notify the government or their neighbors, the Guardian reported Monday.

Recommended for you

Off-world manufacturing is a go with space printer

Dec 20, 2014

On Friday, the BBC reported on a NASA email exchange with a space station which involved astronauts on the International Space Station using their 3-D printer to make a wrench from instructions sent up in ...

User comments : 34

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

mvg
5 / 5 (2) Apr 07, 2009
It looks like a rickshaw.
el_gramador
1 / 5 (2) Apr 07, 2009
You my friend have not seen a rickshaw.
MadLintElf
5 / 5 (4) Apr 07, 2009
Na, looks like a Segway with front and back training wheels and a hood.

Now if they put a solar panel on the roof to trickle charge it, that would work nice.

Even better, fold out solar wings to charge while it's not in use.

googleplex
4 / 5 (4) Apr 07, 2009
Well I am usually pro tech but I don't see people buying this.
What does a 35 mph crash test look like with an SUV? It would either get crushed like a soda can or recoil from the impact and go ballistic.
The vehicle itself is great however roads are not the place for it unless other road vehicles are banned.
This was the same killer for the Segway. Banned by local government from sidewalks and suicidal on the roads. A huge price tag did not help. So what you have is an expensive toy you can drive around a parking lot or a back street.
What is needed are dedicated non motorvehicle roads like in Holland. Perhaps it would sell well over there.
Doug_Huffman
1 / 5 (1) Apr 07, 2009
I think it looks very like a pousse-pousse with the drawbar removed.

The 35 cents figure should give a good idea of its capacity, guessing $0.12 - $0.25 kWh^1.
NeilFarbstein
3 / 5 (2) Apr 07, 2009
It looks like garbage and its open to the elements
Sean_W
2 / 5 (4) Apr 07, 2009
I thought there was a resemblance to a rickshaw too - a twisted kind of one but the two side-by-side wheels and the seats... Definitely a mutant rickshaw.
Sonhouse
5 / 5 (2) Apr 07, 2009
More like a mutant wheelchair:)
paulthebassguy
5 / 5 (1) Apr 07, 2009
The problem with this and Segways in an urban environment is that they cannot go up steps!! How many urban environments do not have steps?!? It's such a hassle to drag one of these up.
Mudshark
5 / 5 (4) Apr 07, 2009
April Fool's day was 6 days ago...
Ivan2
5 / 5 (1) Apr 07, 2009
A 2012 tentative release date can't cut it! Sell it to Apple NOW. They will have them on the roads in 4 months tops. Then steal it from Apple and seel it to, uh, Ford, and the price will be Fordian in 3 seconds, as long as it's black.

Then sell it to Martha Steward!

It will work!
nilbud
5 / 5 (2) Apr 08, 2009
600 pounds absolutely ridiculous a Yamaha V-MAx weighs the same and is a much better ride.
Doug_Huffman
2 / 5 (4) Apr 08, 2009
2012? The Thirteenth Baktun! It'll be too late.
MrFred
3 / 5 (4) Apr 08, 2009
It only ranges 35 miles on a charge? It's time we stop letting the oil companies hold back battery development. Really! Back in 1913 they managed 100 miles in an electric car on one charge! 1913 people!!!!!!
twasnow
5 / 5 (4) Apr 08, 2009
umm here's an Idea dump the gimmicky 2 wheel and go with 3 or 4 (like a normal wheel chair scooter) now you have something that doesn't burn up energy just sitting there.

This is dead before it leaves the building, just like the seagway
A_Paradox
5 / 5 (1) Apr 08, 2009
The single person Segway I understand - too expensive for me personally but here in Perth Western Australia there are now lots of dual use paths, usually known as bike paths, plus a fair few bike-only lanes on roadways. But with this two seater gizmo, who is going to be the 'driver'? Does the more authoritarian occupant have to shove a broomstick down the shirt of the 'passenger' to stop them leaning the wrong way and confusing the machine into a ditch? curiouser and curiouser says I.

But what the hell, a push bike is much cheaper, and the only sure-fire way to reverse the obesity bloat now afflicting burger and fizzy drink eaters all over the world. The Segshaw does seem to have some weather protection, which could probably be made better, and beefing up the monocoque structure should allow it to be safer in the event of a crash, if the occupants are wearing seat belts, but it is doomed by air-resistance as well as all the 'features' mentioned by others above. Perth is a windy place and that thing would only go half speed against the kind of headwinds we can get here. In a vehicle just for two, one of 'em's got to be behind the other to really benefit from streamlining.

Why didn't they go for an electric scooter built-for-two - which would be much more romantic - and incorporate a weather shield/roll cage like the German BMW C1 of whatever. That is not rocket science.
david_42
5 / 5 (2) Apr 08, 2009
"However, this urban transport device is strictly for city driving only"



Should read, "... city driving in flat areas, during good weather, on streets with no other vehicles." I would be worried about getting hit by a bicycle carrier.
John_balls
5 / 5 (2) Apr 08, 2009
This thing looks like a glorified electric wheel chair. No thank you. Just make an all electric car that is just as good as the one tesla makes.
MadLintElf
5 / 5 (2) Apr 08, 2009
I got it, Let's market it to retirement communities and golf courses.

Looks better than the hover round!
JLMEALER
3 / 5 (2) Apr 08, 2009
How about full sized, fully powered automobile that WILL PROFIVDE ELECRTICAL POWER for your home?

Non EV!
No Fossil fuels!

Mealer American Motors Corporation is being funded and you will soon have the option of a MEALER.

NO CARBON TAX from this side.. We are the only provider if such a vehicle/power source.

http://betterconstructed.com

John Lewis Mealer
Ivan2
1 / 5 (1) Apr 11, 2009
Quick reminder for those in the NY area: the car show at the Javits Center starts today. I will go tomorrow and if I see the Puma there I will write a short report about it. Should there be anything to say.

It's a huge hit in the making, but at what price? What could have been the Great Segway Mania fizzled exactly because it costs 5 thousand dollars.

I also think the projected release date, in 2012, is a horrible mistake. It kind of vaporizes the ware...
bredmond
not rated yet Apr 12, 2009
Maybe this would work as automated taxicabs, especially if they could manufacture lightweight frames which could also be collapsible to save space when not carrying passengers. Then it would save space and save resources while still providing safety. Also, there would be no other infrastructure modifications like you would have with some tram running all over the city, or a moving sidewalk, or something totally new. I think with advances in automation and materials science, it would be a beneficial alternative to be used along with existing methods.
Soylent
5 / 5 (1) Apr 12, 2009
It only ranges 35 miles on a charge? It's time we stop letting the oil companies hold back battery development.


They're not holding back battery development.

Really! Back in 1913 they managed 100 miles in an electric car on one charge! 1913 people!!!!!!


In 1899 B.G.S. electric car could travel 180 miles. The trick is to go really, really slowly at all times, have huge lead-acid batteries and zero crash safety.

Similarly, 10 000 miles per gallon is no problem. All you have to do is to make a highly aerodynamic coffin that seats(beds?) one severely underweight or young person in lying position; have absolutely zero crash safety and creep along at low speed on perfectly flat ground with low friction/low deformation tires.
Ivan2
not rated yet Apr 12, 2009
I just went to the show: the PUMA, in one word, is simply TERRIFIC! It fits one American, two Brazilians, three Mexicans, or 4 Chinese!

I am amazed at the machine itself though I didn't even see it moving. I don't know if they put the movie they were presenting at the show on youtube yet, but it shows a future that is -stylistically- straight out of the 1940's, except... this time it is convincing.

Let's plot, folks. 1-Cars that weigh more than, say, a thousand pounds (it doesn't matter how much, but it has to have a ceiling, unquestionably) will get painfully taxed.

2-There will be tax incentives for smaller "cars" -where the word "car" is just meant to be "mode of transportation".

3-Therefore, in less than ten years, all big's will be changed for small's. If you want to cross the country, fine, go by bus and rent a "small" there. I doubt that 100% of the citizens of that fine 1940's future -that means you- need the cross-country ability every day of the year, anyway.

Problem number one is the competition. The GEM by Chrysler is also absolutely terrific and it's far from vaporware. I really mean it! T e r r i f i c !

And it costs 12k, making a serious headway directly into the future market (pricetag-wise) of the PUMA, which still doesn't have even... guess what... a price tag! (I did say it looked like kind'a vaporized ware and it remains so.)

If we were to design a future, which should it be? Gem or PUMA? (The Segway is permanently out of the competition because of the price tag, which has been proven to be unshrinkable.)

They lead to different futures, both would be perfectly adequate. 1-f you see the movie you will instantly fall in love with the PUMA, but... 2-If you see the car you will instantly fall in love with the GEM.

It all depends on where government support will rest, and where lobbies will sabotage you... and they will sabotage you, that is what they were made for...

PUMA or GEM? All bets on window 4...
Ivan2
not rated yet Apr 12, 2009
One thing that would unquestionably make a parent thing twice: there would be less worry about speed and reach (as in "distance") in a PUMA for your kids. There would be also less traffic worries but only as long as everyone has a PUMA, because a parent would have to be insane to leave a teen and/or pre-teen drive a PUMA in the streets as they are nowadays.

If there is government incentive, we could be seeing the end of the driver's license.

Let's go for it: I have to vote for the PUMA, for now.

Don't complain yet, we are just designing a future, aren't we?
antigoracle
1.8 / 5 (5) Apr 13, 2009
While I'm skeptical that human generated CO2 has any significance on global warming, looking at this vehicle leaves me with absolutely no doubt, that global warming contributes significantly to human stupidity.
CliveP
1 / 5 (1) Apr 13, 2009
Come on you guys - can't you recognize an April Fool joke when you see one? It's clearly never going to be practical. In nearly all countries it would have to be registered as a motor vehicle, and users would need a drivers license and insurance. It would have to pass crash-worthiness tests - which seems most unlikely given its flimsiness.

And - running on battery power is may reduce noise but it hardly reduces pollution. The power has to come from power stations which mostly run on coal, oil, or gas, and are very inefficient. When you add in the losses along the power lines, and in the battery charger, and the battery itself, the overall efficiency of battery-powered vehicles is typically the same, or even lower, than gasoline-powered internal-combustion engines. So: I think it's a joke. Perhaps a clever joke, since it's clearly taken in a lot of people. Given GM's other troubles, they may have felt that we needed cheering up!
Soylent
not rated yet Apr 13, 2009
And - running on battery power is may reduce noise but it hardly reduces pollution. The power has to come from power stations which mostly run on coal, oil, or gas, and are very inefficient.


Minor correction, power plants are a good deal more efficient than an internal combustion engine and oil isn't used in powerplants unless you live in some really backwards place like the middle east.
Icester
not rated yet Apr 13, 2009
Does GM not even do a market analysis anymore? The PUMA is a good idea _on paper_, but completely impractical in real life. When I told my wife about this, she just laughed - that is the reaction that people will have.

First, the Volt for $40,000 and now this. No wonder GM needs us taxpayers to keep throwing money at them.

Expect this thing to show up on the FAIL blog as soon as its released.

Sad.
Ivan2
not rated yet Apr 13, 2009
It's clearly never going to be practical. In nearly all countries it would have to be registered as a motor vehicle, and users would need a drivers license and insurance. It would have to pass crash-worthiness tests - which seems most unlikely given its flimsiness.

On the contrary, it will promote the extinction of both the auto insurance business and of the driver license as we understand them now. It doesn't matter that it is vaporware, it will set deep fear in the insurance business.

Know where the next major movement against you by world goverments will come? It's where the lobbies go for. Trust me, there will be no lobby for PUMA, and much less for GEM. That has to come from the need. That is why I think the PUMA is more vaporware than the GEM. However, they are both perfectly spectacular in their different ways, though the GEM is still, recognizably, a car, and the PUMA is not.

As far as "flimsiness", the PUMA can be driven by pre-teens. Should we get over the production and price bottlenecks, it will require extensive redesign of roads so that cars that go over 25 miles per hour will simply have to get off them. PUMA and car traffic simply can not mix. If it is not the PUMA then there will be something else coming along pretty soon (Oooooooh... the iDrive from Apple! Ooooooh!) and it's a certainty that sooner rather than later there will be efficient and inexpensive transportation for everyone on a personal level, and redesigned mass transit for intercity or interstate trips.

So if PUMA is vaporware why am I on its side? Because it points to a future I can live with.

And because it would kill car insurance as we understand it... Just another aspect of society that will not be missed by anyone at all, and whose death shall be celebrated.

REVENGE! REVENGE! (:-)
Ivan2
not rated yet Apr 13, 2009
(
In nearly all countries it would have to be registered as a motor vehicle, and users would need a drivers license and insurance

I just realized how little idea you have of what is going to happen to the driver license legislations and to the insurance lobbies if personal transportation does happen soon!)
Egnite
not rated yet Apr 14, 2009
Seems a good idea for the disabled (or fat lazy phuckz)! :-P Think I'd stick with the freedom, manouverablilty and lack of tax/insurance I currently have with my bike for city use.
Ivan2
1 / 5 (1) Apr 14, 2009
I'd stick with the freedom, manouverablilty and lack of tax/insurance I currently have with my bike

Don't give up just yet.

In fact, do take voice lessons and be ready to scream the day the insurance business tries to get its paws around the personal transportation business.

When that business exists, of course. Not that it ever will...
JLMEALER
not rated yet Apr 23, 2009
Sorry about the typos... It happens!

How about full sized, fully powered automobile that WILL PROFIVDE ELECRTICAL POWER for your home?



Non EV!

No Fossil fuels!



Mealer American Motors Corporation is being funded and you will soon have the option of a MEALER.



NO CARBON TAX from this side.. We are the only provider if such a vehicle/power source.



http://betterconstructed.com



John Lewis Mealer

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.