GM's P.U.M.A.: Fleet Captain Pike meets Paul Blart, Mall Cop

P.U.M.A.

IMAGE CREDIT: Segway

In general, it's a bad thing when every blogger has the same first reaction to your new "personal mobility pod."

Captain Pike's Chair

IMAGE CREDIT: TrekMovie.com

Star Trek action figure tableau including Fleet Captain Christopher Pike, whose run-in with fictional delta radiation left him paralyzed, mute, badly scarred, and confined to a wheelchair at Starbase 11.

G.M. and Segway have teamed up to breathe new life into the Segway personal transporter, rescuing it from the mall cop ghetto it now inhabits in the public imagination.

The P.U.M.A., short for Personal Urban Mobility Transport, is "not really being introduced," according to the New York Times Bits blog, "except as a bit of blue-sky thinking about better ways to move around crowded urban areas than driving an automobile." It's being shown this week at the New York International Auto Show.

Commenters at BoingBoing, ever in rare form, immediately noted the unfortunate resemblance to the Star Trek character Capt. Christopher Pike, who was injured in a radiation incident and who consequently suffers from Locked-In Syndrome, and must spend the rest of his days zipping around in a little black box that communicates "yes" and "no" in binary monotones.

pike1new.jpg

IMAGE CREDIT: TrekMovie.com

The P.U.M.A.'s communication system is much upgraded, featuring, according to the New York Times, all the benefits of GM's OnStar system (which I have never used and am therefore unqualified to assess). You can also have direct vehicle to vehicle communication, which I imagine is much like push-to-talk walkie talkie cell phone technology.

The P.U.M.A.'s lithium-ion batteries give it a top speed of 35 mph, and enough juice for a 35-mile range.

I'll get one when, like Pike's chair, they can be operated by brain machine interface.

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