back to article GM, Segway to unveil iPhone-driven wheelchair e-car

General Motors may be knock-knock-knocking on heaven's door, but it clearly still has the time and money to fanny about with left-field ideas like Project P.U.M.A. - or the Personal Urban Mobility and Accessibility vehicle. GM Segway Puma GM and Segway's Puma: wheelchair or car? A tie-up with personal-mobility guru Segway …

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  1. Elmer Phud Silver badge

    Straws, grasping at for the use of

    Another dying gasp from the motor industry, trying to gain some creedence and attemping to keep people focused on the car industry.

    Forget it, it's over, you've spunked away all the money and ain't getting any more.

    Some of us would prefer the mono-wheeled beast that Hiro Protagonist ends up with.

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Down

    Why 2 wheels?

    Just why?

    I can't see a single advantage other than a very good turning circle.

    It's stupid.

  3. Lionel Baden

    what happens

    When some twat drills through a fibre cable

    And then all the net connections are lost and nobody knows how to drive without collision advoidance system ???

  4. Code Monkey

    Using a phone while driving?

    So it's a "car" that you /have/ to use a mobile phone to operate? Smart move Sherlock. Good luck getting that certified road legal in the UK, fools!

  5. Simon Williams
    Boffin

    Two wheels bad, four wheels good

    I'm pro electric vehicles for all kinds of reasons, and look forward to the day when somebody markets an affordable one, but this has to be the most rediculous contraption yet proposed. Why on earth go for self-balancing, when with the addition of a decent-sized front or rear wheel -- or even a pair of them -- you could cut the cost (considerably), dispense with the trolley wheels at front and back and design something that doesn't look like a Flintstones reject. The only excuse would be if it fitted with urban bylaws allowing it to travel places other leccy vehicles can't reach.

  6. Hollerith

    Two wheels good, four wheels better

    Why not give it three or four wheels and do away with all the gyroscopic balance stuff? The Segway technology has to be flogged, I guess.

    Enough room for shopping? I'd only have one of these, over a bike or car, to carry loads. Otherwise I could walk.

  7. sig

    Fatty wagon

    Where's the feeding hatch?

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    GM desperate

    GM are $46 BILLION in debt even before the latest bailout. Obama has said they need to be made bankrupt and restructure or sold off rather than keep pumping money into them when they have no future.

    In response they have restarted subprime loans via their GMAC subsidiary, what does it matter now, they have nothing to lose. If they sell a few cars they can pretend to have a future and maybe damage Obama politically when he closes them down. Doesn't matter if they don't get paid later, because if they fail to look viable, they have no future.

    http://news.yahoo.com/s/nm/20090401/bs_nm/us_gmac

    Now we have this, this is clearly the Segway vehicle. I'm guessing GM threw a few million from the MULTI BILLION DOLLARS THEY WERE HANDED BY THE TAXPAYER, at Segway to get a bit of Kudos.

    But it's all designed to make it politically difficult to close GM down, even though it's never going to be able to ever pay it's debts.

    The taxpayer money should go to Segway if they want to make this vehicle, not to GM which in turn skims 99.99999% off the top and hands a little to Segway.

  9. Ray
    Coat

    Commonly Found Road Vehicles vs Segway Puma

    Tram 1 - 0 Puma

    Bus 1 - 0 Puma

    Lorry 1 - 0 Puma

    Bedford Rascal 1 - 0 Puma

    Estate 1 - 0 Puma

    Saloon 1 - 0 Puma

    Hatchback 1 - 0 Puma

    Milkfloat 1 - 0 Puma

    Honda Goldwing 1 - 0 Puma

    BMW C1 1 - 0 Puma

    Raleigh Mustang - results tbc - Puma

    Hm. Mine's the one with rollbars.

  10. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Vehicle to Vehicle Comms?

    Can't wait for the first security vuln. The fun you could have steering the happless occupant around town.

    In all seriousness though it's one of those inventions that is a solution to a problem that doesn't exist. Do we really need something to fulfill the promise of the future of urban transport? There are already lots of solutions. Presumably we can't use the car, but that still leaves us with public transport, bicycles, electric scootes, the segway (if you must), and so on. And we mustn't forget Shank's pony.

  11. Steven Raith
    Thumb Down

    You get invalid carriages...

    ..for the physically disabled.

    Are these things for the mentally challenged?

    Utterly fucking tragic.

    Steven R

  12. Anonymous Coward
    Happy

    Photoshop

    Is the speed pictures photoshopped?

    What happens when cornering at speed?

    And can it be hacked to do tricks like roll over and play dead... or forward / backward rolls.

    Is this the next big thing? AmanfromMars should inform us all. At least it will make more sense than a new Segway.

  13. Luis Ogando
    Paris Hilton

    FAIL!

    (sigh) this is terrible. Normally I support 'Leccy Tech initiatives, but this is totally appalling! The price is nearly as ridiculous as the looks. For a shade off 4 grand you can get a second hand Corsa in good nick that is easy to park, has a boot you can fit more than a tin of beans in and also offers the functionality of up to 4 passengers.

    Auto manufacturers need to come up with viable solutions for electric vehicles. Preferably solutions which actually use all 4 wheels. How this thing will stop in wet/snowy/icy conditions will be an entertaining revelation if nothing else.

    Patris, 'cos she's got 'leccy tech....

  14. R
    Stop

    Four wheels good, two wheels bad.

    I just can't understand the obsession with 2 wheeled balancing vehicles. How much would that $5000 rickshaw cost if they just made it run on four wheels?

    The concept isn't actually that bad, but all they need to implement it is a supercharged golf buggy.

  15. John Robson Silver badge

    Surely an extra wheel

    would help - it can't be efficient to have to keep balanced when there are well known stable configurations...

  16. Mike Richards Silver badge

    OMG!

    They've finally invented something more embarrassing than a Segway.

  17. Eponymous Cowherd
    Thumb Down

    Ugh!

    Looks like a cross between a pushchair and a wheeliebin.

  18. Andrew Newstead

    0-35 in ?

    Love the "wheelie bars" on the back, does that mean it's a bit too quick off the mark?

  19. Anonymous Coward
    Stop

    Hmmm.

    Wouldn't a bicycle do pretty much the same thing but better? Small and nimble to beat the traffic and can go fast enough (even 35 mph is doable). Then on top of that it'll be miles cheaper, easier to park (just need a railing, not some fancy digital networking device to point to nearest car parks), range limited by food availablility not recharging points and people will be fit and healthy.

  20. Dave

    Bicycle

    Is cheaper, takes up less space, improves the health of the rider and doesn't need batteries.

    Ah, but these gizmos are designed for people who don't like to exercise, aren't they?

  21. Bassey

    Que?

    > Project Puma represents a unique solution to moving about and interacting in cities

    Unique? Yes. Practical? Stylish? Better than walking? No.

  22. John
    Pirate

    Don't sneer at this...

    if you don't require a wheelchair. I know my wife would love one of these! Herr terrorising of hapless shoppers would know no bounds...

  23. goggyturk
    Coat

    @ Ray - forgot one

    Sinclair C5 1, Puma 0.

    Now there was an idea ahead of its time...

    I'll get my coat now.

  24. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    pics

    It wasn't till the last image that this was revealed in its full glory - a motorised wheelybin :-)

    Bizarrely I'm all in favour of these - whilst still not up there aesthetically, practically or even environmentally, with a bicycle, it does encourage people into cars that don't have enormous crumple zones and 2 tonnes of weight to them, which encourages them to drive with a little more consideration - even if that's only to preserve their own hides.

    I wouldn't cycle in London and it's not only because I'm fat and lazy, but because it's a desperately unpleasant way to travel with the cars, buses, lorries, taxis and above all Chelsea tractors. The greatest safety measure one could take in any modern car would be an 18" spike coming out of the dashboard.

    I am not mad.

  25. Peyton
    Jobs Horns

    Weeble-mobile

    I hope I don't ever encounter one of these... the compulsion to try and push it over would be too strong to resist.

  26. Colin Millar
    Thumb Up

    @ photoshop

    You answered your own question

    What happens when cornering at speed? - it rolls over and plays dead

  27. John
    Flame

    me again

    @Luis Ogando have you priced a decent electric wheelchair (NOT a granny scooter) lately?

    @John Robson have you tried to get up a "dropped" (hah!!) kerb in a standard small-wheel-in-the-front wheelchair?

    Really guys (even you Dave - I'm glad you can go a bike) I thought Reg readers were innovative and open-minded.

    What a bunch of self-satisfied, self-propelled lunkheads. Have a thought for the people who really need a manouverable, compact pavement (sidewalk) transport. And for goodness sake, if you see one coming get out of the way!!!

  28. G R Goslin

    Re- why two wheels

    I can't see a single advantage other than a very good turning circle.

    It's stupid.

    But if you mated it with a supermarket trolley, think about the elimination of the parking problem.

  29. Michael Thibault
    Stop

    Wrong-Way-Feldman

    Where are the pedals?

    Surely this thing won't be allowed on the roads without a requirement that the lone driver/rider/passenger by pedaling at a minimum rate - to charge the battery a bit or, if nothing else, to demonstrate that they're contributing in _some_ way... ?

    Or how about Segway segue their thinking and put the smarts they're desperate to monetize into making in-line two-wheeled HPVs more stable at slow speeds? Recumbents doing track-stands! I'd pay to see that day.

  30. Dale

    Wheelchair

    You can go shopping at Bluewater and not even bother parking at all. Just drive it around the centre.

    Oh, they might not let you do that. Rather just get an electric wheelchair then; no-one is going to challenge that!

  31. Hugh McIntyre

    Toyota

    A recent TopGear also showed a "drive round in an open-front chair" prototype by Toyota. They used 3 or 4 wheels though, I think, (as well as a "recline for speed" mode). I agree that 2 wheels seems to make no sense except for "this is what Segway does". And the end result from GM/Segway is arguably just a Segway where you can sit down.

    Neither option looks safe on a public road, although at least you're higher up than a Sinclair C5 when you get hit by a car.

  32. John Boyarsky
    Boffin

    Can you say.... NERDBOY???

    Can you say NERDBOY squared?

    I thought the Segway was nerdish... This WOULD get you shot on the streets of most big cities...

    <<--because it was the nerdiest pic there...

  33. Richard Porter
    Gates Horns

    Strewth?

    No, it's 'sTruth! Short for "God's Truth".

  34. Mike Flugennock

    Because you just can't look dorky enough...

    D'ahh ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha hah hah

    ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha oh, damn, I've wet 'em.

  35. Mike Flugennock
    Coat

    Waitaminnit! I finally realized what that reminds me of...

    Is anyone else here old enough to remember a comic strip called "Smokey Stover"? Remember that silly-assed two-wheeled jalopy he drove around in?

    D'ahh ha ha ha ha ha ha ha oh, damn, I've wet 'em again.

  36. Pete James

    baaaaaa

    The Register sheep have been grazing again. Just as John says earlier, for a tech news site there really are some incredibly closed minds around here. That's truly sad.

    If this had a Honda badge on it then the comments from various narks on here wouldn't have appeared. Of course, if it had a Honda badge on it then it would be a lot more than some rubular steel and a plastic seat with a castor wheel fore and aft. It would be dressed properly instead of being a bit of a man in a shed joke. Which it certainly does appear to be at present.

    But the concept, while flawed, is decent. Luggage space should be better defined - make the passenger space flexible. Range is abysmal - not desperately difficult to fix. Finally, someone really has to get a grip on the pricing. If it's not good value then it simply won't sell. But the dynamic stabilisation is a good idea as it removes the pitch issues inherent in a short wheel base, which has long been a problem with micro-vehicles. Rubber cone suspension would make living with one a lot nicer though. I would also suggest the stabilisation system is linked to drop wheels, for both aesthetic as well as safety purposes.

    But, as we all know, it has a Segway badge so it's an Aunt Sally. Yawn. Fix the issues above though and I would look at having one.

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