After a few years of not catching onto consumers’ shifting tastes towards more environmentally friendly vehicles, General Motors has teamed up with Segway to develop the PUMA, or Personal Urban Mobility and Accessibility, a tiny self-balancing, two-wheeled vehicle powered by electricity. The PUMA can reach speeds of thirty-five miles per hour.
It’s an interesting concept, but much like the original Segway, I don’t think it will catch on except in unique circumstances. The only place I see Segways are in shopping malls, where they drivers are part of the facilities security or police. I have had my own personal experience with a Segway; several years ago, I rode one of these devices in Disneyland’s Tomorrowland exhibition.
Dean Kamen, the inventor of the Segway, created massive hype before unveiling the Segway, promising it would revolutionize urban transportation. He would have predicted that these personal transportation devices would be ubiquitous by now, particularly in cities. That hasn’t come to pass yet. In fact, Segway is judged to be a failure.
How the PUMA device is heading in the same direction. But perhaps there is room for success; I have seen an increasing number of Smart Cars on the roads and in parking lots.
Here’s a video of GM and Segway’s collaborative PUMA vehicle. Can you see yourself in one?