General Motors and Segway have partnered to make the P.U.M.A., which can be best described as a two-wheeled urban personal transport vehicle. In a nutshell, it is exactly like a Segway, except you’re sitting on your ass. So, how do you drive the thing, you ask? Simple. Just push the center console away from you to go forward, and towards you to brake. The P.U.M.A. (just like the Segway) maintains its balance by using gyroscopes:
It uses an array of angular rate sensors and accelerometers to determine the orientation and motion of the vehicle’s platform. As the platform leans forward, the balance sensor assembly notices and responds by requesting power to the motors to drive the wheels forward to maintain balance.
Besides it’s auto-balancing magic, the P.U.M.A. sports an electronic motor for propulsion, software traction control, regenerative braking (converting braking energy back into usable energy), drive-by-wire, and a digital dashboard that allows you to view the vehicle’s speed and battery life via a secured wireless connection to a handheld device (e.g., the iPhone). Thanks to GM, each P.U.M.A. will come equipped with OnStar. Unfortunately, the P.U.M.A. only appears to be able to carry two occupants and not much else. So, don’t expect to be able to carry your family of four and groceries around town. It is, however, capable of reaching a top speed of 35 mph and is powered by rechargeable Lithium Ion batteries.
The vehicle weighs about 600 pounds and will hit the market in 2012. The only hint of a price is that the P.U.M.A. will cost one-third to one-fourth of the cost of your average car.