Dean Kamen Strikes Again!
0 comment Wednesday, August 20, 2014 |
I was reading the transportation related articles in the NY Times this morning, when I came across this gem. Apparently, GM has been working on a "personal mobility" product with renowned futurist and inventor of the Segway, Dean Kamen. It looks like this:
As has been written about by finer critics than myself, the Segway itself is a somewhat irrelevant invention.

Ignoring the fact that a robust compact personal mobility device was invented in the 19th century and remains popular, the P.U.M.A. strikes me as pointless for another reason, cost. "The Segway PT costs $5,000, so the more capable 600-pound P.U.M.A. would presumably be priced considerably higher". If we're talking that price range, I can think of some passenger vehicles that weigh in at less than 600 pounds and have a longer range.
But that's not really the issue. The issue is that fundamentally, a human can power themselves on the neighborhood jaunts this is supposed to address. Barring certain handicaps, a bicycle or walking is a superior option to something like this. The problem is that GM doesn't have a piece of the bicycle market, bikes aren't motorized (mostly), and a reasonable one costs $500. How is a multi-national company with legacy union costs supposed to get by on that? ...
My worry is that this product will fire up the planning wonks, futurists, and armchair CEOs calling for GM to re-invent itself. Let me tell you GM, the P.U.M.A. ain't it. If you want to know the solution to urban mobility, it looks more like Copenhagen, and a lot less like the Jetsons. One last thing... to hell with you, Dean Kamen!

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