NEW YORK — I was sick for days — days! — after riding on an innocuous amusement ride named the Ali Baba at our neighborhood church fair recently. On any water rougher than a placid pond, I get seasick. So it’s not surprising that a short ride at the New York International Auto Show in the General Motors/Segway Project P.U.M.A. (Personal Urban Mobility and Accessibility) vehicle — a wheelchair that took a detour through Pimp My Ride — left me feeling vaguely queasy. Actually, really queasy.

This is not to say I didn’t enjoy the experience, or the car, or vehicle, or whatever it is. Think of a Segway for two that you sit in. Or on, because it’s kind of open air. P.U.M.A. is a gyroscopically balanced zero-emissions vehicle, or ZEV, with two wheel motors powered by lithium-ion batteries. It has a 35-mile range, and a 35-mph top speed. It’s Segway’s patented gyroscopic tipping — as the vehicle moves forward and back — that tied my stomach in knots.

Here's the PUMA captured on video on the New York show floor:


There’s only one P.U.M.A., and it was cobbled together by Segway’s engineers in something like 90 days, though GM and Segway have been talking for a year and a half. The idea is that P.U.M.A. will be more than just a novel transporter: GM envisions its OnStar system harnessed to allow vehicle-to-vehicle (V2V) communications and, eventually, full autonomous remote control. Your docked iPhone will constitute a dashboard, and you can use it to set up a video conference with your friends while a server somewhere plots your route and makes sure you don’t hit the other pods on the road.

Dr. Chris Borroni-Bird is director of Advanced Technology Vehicle Concepts at GM, and he says that the P.U.M.A. has only a quarter the mass of a regular vehicle. He sees broad applications for the vehicle to transport the elderly and disabled — not least because bodywork options include a hinged front-end that would make for very easy entrance and exit.

“Our holistic vision can be described as a three-legged stool,” Dr. Borroni-Bird said. “First, electric drive; second, the unique size and shape of the vehicle; third, connectivity. GM does believe in electrification, and we do think that future vehicles will need to be small.”

The opinions expressed by MNN Bloggers and those providing comments are theirs alone, and do not reflect the opinions of While we have reviewed their content to make sure it complies with our Terms and Conditions, MNN is not responsible for the accuracy of any of their information.