GM and Segway just unveiled Project P.U.M.A. live here in New York. Don't judge the two-wheeler on looks alone; it's just a prototype for a much more finished urban transportation solution.
We were pretty skeptical when we first saw the P.U.M.A last night, it looked like an unfinished farce, a modern take on the Sinclair C5. But now, having seen it in the flesh, we're more convinced that a vehicle like this could provide effectual urban transport at some point in the future. The interesting thing here isn't necessarily the size - barely wide enough to fit two skinny urban dwellers — the electric powertrain — 35 mile range, 35 MPH top speed, all on 35 cents of electricity — or the added mobility it provides - not much more than a bicycle and significantly less than a gas-powered scooter — but it's vehicle-to-vehicle communication. Not only does the P.U.M.A. talk to other units, but it can detect the presence of other types of vehicles, pedestrians and cyclists; using that info to avoid collisions. It can also join together with other P.U.M.A.s to form high-speed (if you can call 35 MPH high speed) cross-city trains capable of using special lanes for uninterrupted travel.
This isn't the way the P.U.M.A. will look if it ever comes to market (we're told it could be as early as January); this is just the raw chassis. Expect futuristic styling, a luxurious interior and fully encapsulating bodywork if it does ever make it on to the streets. We'll have our first ride report shortly.