Is this ridiculous thing — reeking of foppish desperation and geek fantasia — the new Urban Chariot?  Is our future so doomed by the economy that we’ll be coerced into actually traveling the streets of Manhattan and rolling along the suburban wilds in a P.U.M.A. (Personal Urban Mobility and Accessibility) from Segway and General Motors?  We know the future is round, but must it also be ugly as well as silly?

Trends indicate that urbanization is growing, and with that comes increased congestion and more competition for parking. Cities around the world are actively looking for solutions to alleviate congestion and pollution. Project P.U.M.A. addresses those concerns. It combines several technologies demonstrated by GM and Segway, including electric drive and batteries; dynamic stabilization (two-wheel balancing); all-electronic acceleration, steering and braking; vehicle-to-vehicle communications; and autonomous driving and parking. Those technologies integrate in Project P.U.M.A. to increase mobility freedom, while also enabling energy efficiency, zero emissions, enhanced safety, seamless connectivity and reduced congestion in cities.

I’m not sure when the “modified wheelchair” look became urban chic and appropriate for mainstream travel, but just looking at this image with the parking lot blurrily whizzing by makes one sick with vertigo as the inertia of turning a corner threatens to pour us from the seat and onto the pavement below.

I agree with these stunned onlookers:  “I’d rather walk, thank you!”

I wonder how safe the P.U.M.A. is in a traffic accident?

Would they be easy to “Segwayjack?”

Where are the cup holders?  Even I know Americans want at least six cup holders per moving vehicle!

The P.U.M.A. proves what I’ve known all along, but hated to confess in public: We need to let GM die a quick and painful death — because now they’re not only just wasting our money, they’re wasting our time.

8 Comments

  1. They are pretty silly looking – looks like something you’d see in an amusement park, actually, with the straps looking like the average roller coaster ride.

  2. I don’t understand their role as transportation devices, Gordon. You could never use them in NYC even though the images were taken there. There’s no protection from car fumes or muggers or the environment. Would you drive one of those in the rain or a snow storm?
    They do look like misbegotten Ferris wheel cages…

  3. When I want to travel the city streets in an environmentally friendly, easy to park vehicle that offers no protection from the elements, passerby or car crashes, I’ll take my bicycle.