Count Me Skeptical About the Segway-GM ‘PUMA’
The P.U.M.A., a new Personal Urban Mobility & Accessibility vehicle, reminds me of a wheelchair on steroids. Officials from Segway and General Motors appeared on NBC's The Today Show this morning to tout the prototype of the vehicle described on Segway's The Last Mile blog as follows:
Built off of the proven reliable and safe technology you find in Segway Personal Transporters (PTs), the prototype truly does expand upon the exhilarating riding experience. It increases capacity to two passengers in a seated position; capable of carrying them up to anywhere between 25 and 35 mph (40 - 56 kph) for anywhere between 25 and 35 miles (40 - 56 km) on a single charge.* It does so while taking advantage of the unparalleled maneuverability and advanced control you get through Segway’s use of dynamic stabilization (balancing technology). Add in know-how with large format lithium-ion batteries and you have something that’s zero emissions during operation - likely only costing about $.60 in electricity to recharge.
While I don't want to "rain" on this two-wheeled parade, I must admit that I'm skeptical:
- Can a person driving this vehicle survive a crash with a standard-size car or truck? And what about a big rig? It doesn't appear to be very safe.
- Does it have anyplace to store things? Judging by the photos like the one above and those found here, one would be hard-pressed to find a place to store a briefcase, laptop, lunch pail or other item necessary for a typical work day.
The fact that General Motors is involved in the effort, dubbed Project P.U.M.A., causes me even more concern, but I will wait until the production versions of this vehicle are released before I discount completely it's viability.