This morning, GM will reveal "a revolutionary vehicle to help people move through crowded cities and alleviate the significant issues of congestion, safety, parking, affordability, and energy concerns." This vehicle may be the next evolution of the "Personal Urban Mobility & Accessibility" collaboration with Segway
. We're liveblogging the details as they surface.
6:05 CST: This is, indeed, an announcement in collaboration with Segway. Chris Borroni-Bird, GM Director of Advanced Technology Vehicle Concepts, cites increasing urbanization in the future, and outlines the most rapidly growing urban areas -- Asian cities that are increasingly motorizing. Personal mobility solutions make sense in these cities.
6:10: Borroni-Bird says Today's automobiles still subscribe to a 100-year-old DNA formula. New DNA is required: Powered by electricity, controlled electronically, and connected to the Internet, infrastructure, and each other.
6:11: The PUMA prototype can reach speeds up to 25mph, and travel up to 30 miles distance. Cabin slides fore and aft to achieve balance.
6:15: GM cites development of the EV1, Autonomy concept, OnStar, and DARPA-winning "Boss" Tahoe as preludes to the PUMA prototype. Also, the term "connectology" was just tossed out. Let the forward-thinking tech jargon flow forth.
6:17: Later this year, drivable prototypes will hit the road. A "switch" will allow drivers to either let the PUMA drive itself, or drive it manually.
6:19: The wrapup: zero emissions, sustainable fuel, safe in low-speed target markets, less stress for commuters, connectivity, fun to drive (especially in manual mode), fashionable (was the Segway ever a fashion statement outside of LA?
), and affordable. "Three to four times less than using a conventional car in an urban environment."
6:21: The average speed of traffic in NYC has fallen in recent years to levels within the capabilities of the PUMA concept. On a per-passenger basis, Project PUMA outperforms other transportation modes (transit bus, Prius, ForTwo, ZENN) in the areas of energy efficiency and CO2 emissions.
6:25: Conventional parking lots can hold approximately 6x as many PUMAs as regular cars, increasing space efficiency and manuverability. AAA ranks total ownership and operating costs for a midsize sedan at $8273; Manhattan commuters face parking and toll charges of up to $8,000 per year.
6:29: Autonomous operation mode may preserve mobility for elderly drivers. By-wire technology allows for either the preservation of conventional steering wheel and pedal controls, as well as other control configurations customized or repositioned to accommodate drivers' needs.
6:35: Borroni-Bird says the PUMA is more fun to drive than conventional "Neighborhood Electric Vehicles" in urban areas because of its manuverability. It can also be "packed" at train stations or mass transit lots. Value propositions compared to an electric scooter: more expensive, but weather-resistant.
6:40: Borroni-Bird hopes for collaboration with government agencies and private corporate alliances to bring PUMA to fruition. One journalist asks about a potential scenario for long distance high-speed commutes: users would "dock" their PUMAs on an "electric guideway" for high-speed long distance travel, and "undock" them for shorter lower-speed commutes.
6:47: Video and media will be available later today to coincide with New York International Auto Show announcements. Critical analysis of this technology? It's too soon to tell, but the iPhone density in this image hosted on the Segway site
may be worth a thousand words.