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Would you drive the GM EN-V?

Monday, July 11th, 2011 - by Bryan Preston

Government Motors gives British government broadcasters a first look at their new concept car, the EN-V. That’s short for electronic networked vehicle. It’s based on a chassis by…Segway.  For reals.

From inside the bubble, the futuristic EN-V feels like a living organism as it slowly rises from a crouching position, before balancing on two wheels as if they were legs.

Unlike a motorcycle, which has one wheel in front of the other, the two-seater electric car has one wheel on either side of its flimsy body.

The light-weight design makes it as agile as a ballet dancer. Turn the steering wheel hard to the side and the car, if that is indeed the best way to describe this peculiar vehicle, turns on a sixpence.

Push the wheel – which is more of an iPad-inspired joystick – forward and it surges ahead into a sprint at speeds of 25mph (40km/h) or more, depending on how the computer is programmed, delivering a 25 mile (40km) range per charge.

Travelling at such speeds may seem hazardous, given that the car has been designed without bumpers, air bags or any other conventional crash protection devises.

But according to the people who make it, the EN-V – short for electric networked vehicle – is smart enough to avoid collisions.

“Unlike a conventional car, which is designed to prevent its passengers and pedestrians in the event of a crash, the EN-V is more like an aircraft, in that it is designed to avoid crashing in the first place,” explains Tom Brown from the research and development department at General Motors (GM).

The EN-V has sensors including GPS that allow it to drive itself. It could, say, drive your kid to school and then swing back to grab you for the trip to work. But it’s so delicate a little eggshell that it can’t live on the same roads as Escalades and Excursions. It would lose every interstate highway battle of the fittest. So for now, they will be confined to specific zones, but there’s already speculation of changing urban laws to mandate the things, or something like them, in major cities.We would all be happy little drones in our glorified Segways.

I predicted something like the EN-V in a sci-fi story I never finished a few years back. Now real tech has already made the story obsolete.

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