General Motors has teamed up with Segway to create what it believes is the answer to the world’s transport problems.
The two companies announced today that they have been working on a two-wheeled, two-seat electric vehicle called the Personal Urban Mobility and Accessibility, or PUMA, project.
The vehicles will use transponder and GPS technology to effectively drive themselves, automatically avoiding obstacles such as cars and pedestrians.
Without the danger of crashing, the companies say airbags will not be necessary. As a result, seatbelts will be provided for ‘comfort purposes’ only.
The GPS-based system will also allow PUMAs to interact with each other, monitoring traffic flow and avoiding congestion.
Developing the vehicles is a bold move for GM, which is currently teetering on the verge of bankruptcy unless it can carry out extensive restructuring.
The car maker will design the body and provide communications technology, while Segway will be responsible for the batteries and the drive system.
The prototype runs on a lithium-ion battery, reaches speeds of up to 35mph and can run 35 miles on a single charge.
"We're excited about doing more with less," said Jim Norrod, chief executive of Segway. "Less emissions, less dependability on foreign oil and less space."