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GM Unveils Networked Electric Mini Cars

samzenpus posted more than 4 years ago | from the many-small-accidents-waiting-to-happen dept.

Earth 206

suraj.sun writes "GM introduced its Electric Networked Vehicle prototypes, one third the size of a typical car, as a way to reduce big urban auto emissions and traffic congestion. The EN-V relies on dynamic stabilization technology similar to that of the one-person Segway scooter to keep its balance, and can be operated autonomously or under manual control. In autonomous mode the EN-V is designed to use high-speed wireless connectivity and GPS navigation to automatically select the fastest route, based on real-time traffic conditions gleaned from the Web or some other networked source of traffic information."

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They also include a small balloon... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31605192)

...which you can rub on the top of the car to get it going again if it loses its charge.

Re:They also include a small balloon... (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31605340)

Heh. Cool. The font changes in Google Chrome.

GM's eyes are bigger than its stomach ... (5, Insightful)

adam (1231) | more than 4 years ago | (#31605194)

"...and can be operated autonomously or under manual control. In autonomous mode the EN-V is designed to use high-speed wireless connectivity and GPS navigation to automatically select the fastest route, based on real-time traffic conditions gleaned from the Web or some other networked source of traffic information."

Seriously? Toyota — the guys who ate your lunch in the marketplace — can't even make a software-gas-pedal work correctly and you're trying to float an EV that navigates autonomously? Good luck with that. You guys need to stick to trying to make what people want now, not what Shatner fanboys are hoping will exist in 20 years. There are so many technical problems here I don't even know where to start. GPS can't detect when little kids run into the road chasing a soccer ball. Trust me, just work on making the Volt not suck, and maybe try to do something like the Aptera, and you'll be just fine.

On a serious note, I don't get why companies introduce "concept" cars with shit they know can never exist in the near future, and with shit no one wants either. If the idea of a concept car is to "WOW" me with all the stuff you're working on making in the next 10 years, how about you start bragging about high density energy storage and biodiesel powerplants that run on algae-derived fuel. This is the stuff people want that isn't practical yet, but might be someday soon[ish]. No one gives a shit about Segway gyro (remember how well the Segway sold?*) and autonomous driving is best left for SciFi films.

*Dean Kamen is a complete badass, though, and despite his misunderstanding of the market, DEKA's other work [wikipedia.org] is amazing.

Re:GM's eyes are bigger than its stomach ... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31605370)

You guys need to stick to trying to make what people want now, not what Shatner fanboys are hoping will exist in 20 years. There are so many technical problems here I don't even know where to start. GPS can't detect when little kids run into the road chasing a soccer ball. Trust me, just work on making the Volt not suck, and maybe try to do something like the Aptera, and you'll be just fine.

Gosh, if only new automotive technologies could be prototyped and existing ones could be improved. Like, at the same time, within the same company! What a shame that the two are mutually exclusive.

Re:GM's eyes are bigger than its stomach ... (2, Funny)

Linux_ho (205887) | more than 4 years ago | (#31606236)

Gosh, if only new automotive technologies could be prototyped and existing ones could be improved.

[citation needed]

Re:GM's eyes are bigger than its stomach ... (1)

Cyberax (705495) | more than 4 years ago | (#31605420)

Yet self-driving cars are the future. I believe that it's possible to make a much safer automatic car, eventually surpassing safety of even very good human drivers.

And the best thing - I'll be able to read books while driving!

We've discussed this in the past: http://news.slashdot.org/article.pl?sid=08/07/24/220225 [slashdot.org]

Re:GM's eyes are bigger than its stomach ... (4, Funny)

HangingChad (677530) | more than 4 years ago | (#31605610)

And the best thing - I'll be able to read books while driving!

Read books?! My passtime will involve curtains, a bottle of vodka and a bleach blond.

Might want to think about getting out a little more. ;)

Re:GM's eyes are bigger than its stomach ... (1)

wealthychef (584778) | more than 4 years ago | (#31605742)

I already read books while driving. Audiobooks, of course.

Re:GM's eyes are bigger than its stomach ... (1)

z0idberg (888892) | more than 4 years ago | (#31606074)

I already read books while driving. Audiobooks, of course. *MAYVIN*

Re:GM's eyes are bigger than its stomach ... (2, Insightful)

Again (1351325) | more than 4 years ago | (#31606262)

I already read books while driving. Audiobooks, of course.

I can't stand how slow the people read.

Re:GM's eyes are bigger than its stomach ... (1)

zippthorne (748122) | more than 4 years ago | (#31606690)

The example automator actions that come with every mac include one that causes the speech system to create an audio-file and import it into iTunes. With a very little bit of tweaking, you can make it go at any speed you like.

The disturbing thing about it is that some of their voices are an order of magnitude more audible than most of the libravox recordings over at Gutenberg.* But I guess you get what you pay for.

*don't even bother listening to shakespeare or any poetry, they've got some absolutely daft young ladies reading in the worst sing-songy style (it's a poem, so you have to read it like a nursery rhyme for a two year old, right? argh.) ever. I know, I know, they're volunteers. Trust me on this, if you want an audio book, pay for it. Voice acting isn't cheap for a reason.

Still, if you like real-people but find them too slow, mplayer on linux (see, you don't even need a stupid mac!) has some interesting options that I assume are descended from ffmpeg, which allow you to speed things up without changing the pitch. So a little research and you could be on your way with whatever options work for you.

Re:GM's eyes are bigger than its stomach ... (1)

PopeRatzo (965947) | more than 4 years ago | (#31607242)

My passtime will involve curtains, a bottle of vodka and a bleach blond.

Be careful, peroxide can damage the rubber on an inflatable doll.

Re:GM's eyes are bigger than its stomach ... (2, Funny)

riffenator (197038) | more than 4 years ago | (#31606024)

Self driving cars are here!

They're called trains.

Re:GM's eyes are bigger than its stomach ... (1)

MightyYar (622222) | more than 4 years ago | (#31606142)

Unfortunately, we have unions... therefore, our trains still have drivers and actual people to make the doors open and close.

Re:GM's eyes are bigger than its stomach ... (1)

riffenator (197038) | more than 4 years ago | (#31606194)

mostly...not in san francisco....

Re:GM's eyes are bigger than its stomach ... (1)

zippthorne (748122) | more than 4 years ago | (#31606616)

It is possible, but it'll never happen, for the same reason it hasn't happened in the airline industry (where the route problem is actually much, much easier...)

People are panicky and stupid.

An automatic car system could reduce road deaths by 98%, but those remaining 2% will be errors in the software, so the whole thing would be derided as death-traps.

On the other hand, I'd buy an automated car on almost any other network than Government Motors. I wouldn't trust that company with a 39 1/2 foot pole, and I wouldn't be surprised if they're only now pushing it because their new partnership could actually get it mandated into place.

Buffett may like investing in utilities, but for the same reason, the rest of us shouldn't like creating them or buying stuff from them. For me, the next car I buy will be Ford or Foreign. There are no other choices remaining.

Re:GM's eyes are bigger than its stomach ... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31607288)

It is possible, but it'll never happen, for the same reason it hasn't happened in the airline industry (where the route problem is actually much, much easier...)

Huh? On all major airports, CAT III autoland is the norm, not the exception. Especially in difficult weather conditions.

Re:GM's eyes are bigger than its stomach ... (2, Funny)

Prof.Phreak (584152) | more than 4 years ago | (#31606656)

indeed. I'm just now learning to drive (I'm kinda old to just be learning it). In any case, I'm surprised some things haven't been automated yet. Like would it kill the car to signal me that stop sign is coming up? It can't be that big of a deal from image processing point of view... heck, it could even assist on breaking (if it notices I'm going too fast to stop at the right distance). Or how about breaking when the car is about to hit something? (like... a driving instructor would do?). These things aren't beyond the realm of reality for the car of next year... can probably be accomplished with a web-cam like thing pointing in all directions... yet I don't see it in the specs :-/

Re:GM's eyes are bigger than its stomach ... (1)

CheeseTroll (696413) | more than 4 years ago | (#31606892)

Hopefully, automated car systems will work better than in-line spellcheckers, and won't 'break' when the car is about to hit something.

Re:GM's eyes are bigger than its stomach ... (1)

blai (1380673) | more than 4 years ago | (#31606762)

Yet self-driving cars are the future

aren't these called buses?

Re:GM's eyes are bigger than its stomach ... (1)

JWSmythe (446288) | more than 4 years ago | (#31607174)

    Actually, you've spotted the #1 cause of accidents. Human failure. "I didn't see...", "I couldn't stop in time", and "I didn't realize..." are all fine excuses, but they're all human failures in operating thousands of pounds of motor vehicle.

    I don't really foresee self driving cars on the road any time soon though. Like, not in our lifetime. The first time a kid runs out in front of an automated car and gets run over because it couldn't detect a child playing in a yard as being an obstacle, automated cars will be outlawed. For the average (good) driver, he can identify kids playing in the yard, slow down, and when a kid goes running out into the road, avoid the collision. The best we can hope for in automation is to know that the object is there. If an automated car slowed down every time there was an object in a yard it would have to pretty much remain parked.

    I would love to see some of the systems that have been prototyped over the last 20 years show up in cars, such as automatic braking when following too close. That, unfortunately, may make drivers pay less attention to driving.

   

Re:GM's eyes are bigger than its stomach ... (2, Insightful)

PopeRatzo (965947) | more than 4 years ago | (#31607238)

Yet self-driving cars are the future

It'll never fly in America, where cars, like corporations, are deemed to have the same rights as individuals.

A country that's in love with handguns isn't going to give up their god-given Right from when Jesus and Ronald Reagan signed The Constitution to barrel down the federally-funded highways and burn up federally-subsidized oil supplies and listen to anti-government talk radio on the public airwaves. When the most vocal 20 percent of the population literally shat on the floor in fury over regulation of insurance companies, you think they're going to put control of their vehicles into the hands of the communo-fascist Belgian government in Washington?

Sometimes I wonder why the rest of the world hasn't just wiped us off the map as a sensible preventive measure. Maybe the importation of bad British reality TV shows like American Idol is their way of keeping us occupied until they can figure out how to vote us off the island.

Re:GM's eyes are bigger than its stomach ... (4, Interesting)

plopez (54068) | more than 4 years ago | (#31605580)

Yeah, it's just as ridiculous as building an airplane that can fl itself, as if it had some sort of autopilot.
And maybe they'll put computers in them *some day* that can do most of the work on landing and take off. After all, the computer would have to be the size of a skyscraper.

Seriously, in an HOV lane this would be easy and a reason to buy one. You could eat breakfast, talk on your cell phone (or text), do your makeup etc. in comfort.

Re:GM's eyes are bigger than its stomach ... (2, Insightful)

amicusNYCL (1538833) | more than 4 years ago | (#31605796)

Seriously, in an HOV lane this would be easy and a reason to buy one. You could eat breakfast, talk on your cell phone (or text), do your makeup etc. in comfort.

And, with your top speed of 40kph, completely piss off everyone else on the highway.

Re:GM's eyes are bigger than its stomach ... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31606090)

Actually, this might be practical in cities like London where restricted surface street lanes already exist (bus/taxi). Allow these to share that lane until a critical mass causes their own lane to make sense and you might be on to something. These aren't for the highway to start with, but for European cities or American ones of sufficient density, they might make sense.

Re:GM's eyes are bigger than its stomach ... (1)

gtbritishskull (1435843) | more than 4 years ago | (#31606356)

Actually, I would be more worried about an autonomous car going 40kph than one going 100kph. On low speed roads, you have to be worried about people crossing the road. They can walk from behind a big car and the car not be capable of stopping in time (a human could see them walk behind the car and be alert for them coming back out, while computers at this point cannot). On the highway, though, (especially in the HOV lane) you don't have to worry about pedestrians so i think computers could be safer.

Re:GM's eyes are bigger than its stomach ... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31606256)

Well, to be fair. If there were instruments measuring the car's direction accurately and localizers giving more accurate position information than GPS (and its predecessors) in areas where extra precision is needed and "Car Traffic Control" would ensure that other traffic doesn't interfere, it would be significantly easier to have autopilots for cars. Not that autopilots aren't impressive considering that they outperform pilots today.

Re:GM's eyes are bigger than its stomach ... (1)

Penguinisto (415985) | more than 4 years ago | (#31605642)

"You guys need to stick to trying to make what people want now, not what Shatner fanboys are hoping will exist in 20 years."

Err, you do realize that some of that "Shatner fanboy" stuff actually does have a use, right? See also GPS navigation, iPod connectivity, the multifunction screen-from-hell that usually sits where the stereo used to on the dashboard...

I can agree that the Segway-like gear is probably a bit beyond practicality for both mass-production and cost-effectiveness. And the wi-fi guidance thing? Pure dreaming straight out of the 1990s, and I wouldn't want to trust my ass to it until network hacking goes extinct, thanks much.

That said, I'll turn the gist of my argument over to the old baby || bathwater > toss analogy.

/P

Re:GM's eyes are bigger than its stomach ... (1)

arielCo (995647) | more than 4 years ago | (#31605706)

This reminded me of their work on a full-windshield HUD using ultraviolet lasers [slashdot.org] (say that three times). Perhaps they're betting a substantial part of the (bailed) farm on R&D. Why? Patents? Morphing into a tech company? Stay tuned!

Re:GM's eyes are bigger than its stomach ... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31606092)

Toyota has lots of issues because they did that code in Japan. They do not have the high standards that every one thinks that they had. SImply put, they were able to buy off inspectors for 8 years. OTH, GM has taken software seriously. Most of their is coming from the Aviation world. Personally, I would trust GM on software far more than I would trust code coming from any of the Asia firms, or from Ford .

Re:GM's eyes are bigger than its stomach ... (1)

spun (1352) | more than 4 years ago | (#31606204)

You know, I don't often do this, and perhaps some people here have gotten the impression that I don't love my country, so I just have to say, America, Fuck Yeah! [wikipedia.org]

Re:GM's eyes are bigger than its stomach ... (1)

coaxial (28297) | more than 4 years ago | (#31606276)

Oh come on, Everyone knows GPS can't detect obstacles and this gets modded as insightful? Yet rear obstacle avoidance systems is available on many models today, as is adaptive cruise control, and *shockingly* collision avoidance systems [nytimes.com] .

Not only does this technology exist today, but it is standard on some models.

Go back to putting a six foot wing on your Civic. You have no idea what you're talking about.

Re:GM's eyes are bigger than its stomach ... (1)

hipp5 (1635263) | more than 4 years ago | (#31606684)

You guys need to stick to trying to make what people want now

Yeah, why the hell would we ever want to do some long-term strategic business planning? Planning ahead is for fools.

Re:GM's eyes are bigger than its stomach ... (5, Insightful)

c6gunner (950153) | more than 4 years ago | (#31606688)

Seriously? Toyota — the guys who ate your lunch in the marketplace — can't even make a software-gas-pedal work correctly and you're trying to float an EV that navigates autonomously? Good luck with that.

Please. How many cases of "unintended acceleration" have there been? 30? 50? Hell, let's be generous and say 500. Out of 4 million vehicles. In comparison, the US has roughly 6 MILLION accidents per year, more than 80% of which are a result of human error. More than a million people are killed world-wide in traffic accidents every year, and another FIFTY million are injured. And you're worried about an electronic failure rate of 0.01%? Talk about ass-backward priorities!

The sooner we can replace human drivers with computers, the better off we'll be.

Re:GM's eyes are bigger than its stomach ... (1)

lpq (583377) | more than 4 years ago | (#31606708)

History != Destiny.

They may get their act together if they hire the right people.

By the time it's designed for the road, the old foggies who botched the last one may not be around to botch this one.

Same with the engineers.

Nations' power and technical abilities and areas of excellence ARE NOT STAGNANT over long periods of time.

Belief that they are is wishful or deliberately hopeful thinking at best.

That which you get the people and the engineering to believe -- so shall they be.

In 1957, who'd of believed we'd put a man in space, or a man on the moon 11 years later?

What I wanna know is if I can put my feet out the bottom and run and make em run when they run down on batteries ala Flinstone style..(forget Shatner...wrong temporal direction for this option!)...

Re:GM's eyes are bigger than its stomach ... (1)

TapeCutter (624760) | more than 4 years ago | (#31607328)

"Toyota — the guys who ate your lunch in the marketplace — can't even make a software-gas-pedal work correctly"

Toyota — the company that's replacing the floor pans on millions of cars because a small number of drivers in a certain country are too stupid to realise thier floor mat is on top of their gas pedal.

Why? (5, Insightful)

Un pobre guey (593801) | more than 4 years ago | (#31605218)

Why does it have "dynamic stabilization technology" instead of a possibly passive third wheel? Wouldn't it be simpler, cheaper to manufacture and maintain, and much thriftier in its energy use? How much additional energy is used in maintaining balance?

Re:Why? (4, Interesting)

DerekLyons (302214) | more than 4 years ago | (#31605298)

Why does it have "dynamic stabilization technology" instead of a possibly passive third wheel?

Lower weight, lower rolling friction, probably a lower parts count, probably cheaper to manufacture.
 

Wouldn't it be simpler, cheaper to manufacture and maintain, and much thriftier in its energy use?

Maybe, maybe not.

Re:Why? (1)

Un pobre guey (593801) | more than 4 years ago | (#31605578)

Lower parts count? That may be a bogus issue because a passive third wheel would involve far cheaper parts, e.g. no gyros, compute power or software, etc. Fewer things to go wrong, easier to repair with simpler equipment.

Re:Why? (2, Informative)

DerekLyons (302214) | more than 4 years ago | (#31606006)

Even if the parts are individually cheaper, it still costs to handle and install them. So a lower parts count can really matter.

And while there are fewer things to go wrong, a dynamic stabilization system is pretty simple as such things go and don't require any sophisticated tools to troubleshoot or repair.

Re:Why? (1)

Prof.Phreak (584152) | more than 4 years ago | (#31606662)

...but if you're putting in gyros, computing power, and software in *anyway*, then the 3rd wheel is extra :-)

Re:Why? (1)

robot256 (1635039) | more than 4 years ago | (#31606756)

Also having only 2 wheels reduces the footprint, makes it easier to part, and cuts chassis size and weight.

A MEMS gyro chip is like $2 in quantity and can be added to a PCB that already has enough computing power to do that and check your email. Sounds a lot cheaper than the parts and *assembly labor* for adding a third wheel, which BTW would have to be a swivel wheel for it to actually work, and look a lot less cool--who wants to ride R2-D2 around town when it could be an upright pencil case [/sarcasm]?

Re:Why? (3, Interesting)

randy of the redwood (1565519) | more than 4 years ago | (#31605344)

A motorcycle is half the weight, same basic length, and you can fit more of them on the road.

Let's put the research into providing the rider all that information on fastest route.

As batteries get lighter, electric motorcycles get more practical - http://www.motorcycle-usa.com/498/3116/Motorcycle-Article/TTXGP--Electric-Motorcycles-Race-Isle-of-Man.aspx [motorcycle-usa.com] as an example.

Until then, tow a battery trailer, with room for groceries on top.

Re:Why? (2, Insightful)

Dalambertian (963810) | more than 4 years ago | (#31605384)

Good point, but what I don't like about motorcycles is the lack of peripherals for protecting my squishy bits.

Re:Why? (1)

jk379 (734476) | more than 4 years ago | (#31605634)

Not like that car has too much more projection than a bike.

Re:Why? (1)

Nerdfest (867930) | more than 4 years ago | (#31606302)

Exactly. That's why all drivers should be required to spend their first 2 years riding a motorcycle. If you live through it you can drive a car.

Re:Why? (1)

Rakishi (759894) | more than 4 years ago | (#31605708)

Motorcycles are also less comfortable, have less storage capacity, provide no protection from the elements and are basically death traps. Death traps if you're an experience utterly paranoid driver whose constant assumption is that every other driver has been personally hired to kill you. More like genocide for the average driver.

Re:Why? (2, Interesting)

johnlcallaway (165670) | more than 4 years ago | (#31606334)

Motorcycles are not death traps. Morons driving cars are death mobiles. As someone who as AVOIDED numerous crashes (there are no accidents...accidents are unavoidable collisions and most crashes are avoidable), my paranoia also works when I drive a car. It's called 'paying attention'. If more drivers practiced that, there would be fewer crashes for everyone.

Problem is .. most motorcycle riders don't really learn how to ride a bike. They think they can just get on, squeeze the throttle, and take off. My favorite saying is that any moron can ride a motorcycle at 150mph on a straight road .. it's getting it from 150mph to zero quickly that's the hard part.

To be fair .. most people that drive a car don't know what they are doing either. I've read studies that show that an expert driver can stop faster and straighter without anti-lock brakes than with them. In fact, novice drivers often over-react to anti-lock brakes and take their foot OFF the brake because of the funny noise it makes. Besides ... anti-lock brakes were not designed to stop a car faster .. they help the moron driver maintain control. As someone who has driven rear-wheel drive cars w/o anti-lock brakes in Maine .. front-wheel drive and anti-lock brakes only make cars safer for someone who hasn't bothered to learn how to drive.

Re:Why? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31605374)

Yes, a third wheel would reduce the energy cost to zero when standing still. But the dynamic stabilization technology isn't there for that. It's there so that when you hit the breaks hard on a vehicule of such dimensions you don't land flat on your face.

Re:Why? (1)

Un pobre guey (593801) | more than 4 years ago | (#31605588)

It all depends on where the center of gravity ends up. Seems like a very expensive solution to that problem.

Re:Why? (2, Funny)

Aladrin (926209) | more than 4 years ago | (#31605946)

All those moving parts... Wouldn't it be safer, cheaper and easier to just have a horse pull it?

Re:Why? (1)

Un pobre guey (593801) | more than 4 years ago | (#31606274)

I know you're being funny and ironic, but that wouldn't be too bad an idea. In any case, if this is supposed to be a cheap, sustainable vehicle for the masses, then parts count and other manufacturing criteria are important. If it is supposed to be an idiotic toy that rich yuppies can waste their excessive income on (as, quite frankly, it appears), then your comment is on the mark. The more money you can extract from a yuppie, the better.

Doesn't solve the problem (5, Insightful)

royallthefourth (1564389) | more than 4 years ago | (#31605236)

The big problem with automobiles is the problem of space. Modern American cities look like a bomb went off in their downtowns; just a few buildings surrounded by flatness for the sake of parking.

As long as we rely on automobiles for everything, we'll still be consuming too much energy, paying too much to pave too many roads, spending too much money to buy and maintain automobiles, dying in traffic, and wasting time in traffic jams.

Everything besides decreasing auto dependence is just a bandaid. Of course, I wouldn't expect GM to participate in this since they're the ones who killed our public transit system in the first place. [google.com]

Re:Doesn't solve the problem (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31605404)

You are never going to get people to give up cars. The personal freedom, comfort, and benefits over mass transit are just too great. What is going to happen eventually is that people will not drive their cars - cars will be semi-autonomous robots that plan the route, do the driving, detect and avoid objects in their path, communicate with other vehicles in proximity while driving, and park themselves efficiently. We can just sit there and drink, text our friends, and yell at the kids in the back to be quiet while the car is driving.

Re:Doesn't solve the problem (1)

countertrolling (1585477) | more than 4 years ago | (#31606738)

...yell at the kids in the back to be quiet while the car is driving.

Ah nice.. a car that turns itself around.

Re:Doesn't solve the problem (1)

HockeyPuck (141947) | more than 4 years ago | (#31605494)

"Get off my lawn!"

I can say this because I and millions of americans live in the suburbs. We enjoy our backyards, our gardens our patios. Living in a highrise with a "balcony" is not the same when it comes to telling your kids "go outside and play" which btw should not involve taking an elevator down 20 floors and crossing a major street to get to a park. You can't exactly open up the window on your 20th floor highrise and yell out to the kids to "come in for dinner", nor can you keep an eye on them.

Get out on your lawn (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31605920)

I have been living since January 2009 in the suburb of Washington DC and why I commute by bike I have ample opportunity to see if people go out in their gardens.
They don't.
During the entire spring, summer and autumn of 2009 I had barely seen 10 times people and kids doing things outside.
So go ahead and yell, "get off my lawn" but at least come and step on it yourself sometimes ;)

Re:Get out on your lawn (1)

cmiller173 (641510) | more than 4 years ago | (#31606556)

I'm not in a "suburb of Washington DC" but my kids play in the back yard, and there is a 6-foot privacy fence so you would be unlikely to see them playing with the black labrador even if you biked by.

Re:Get out on your lawn (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31606802)

I'm not in a "suburb of Washington DC"

Well I'm speaking of suburbs along a 10-mile line through Silver Spring and Bethesda / Chevy Chase.
It was definitely not worth building over old-growth oak forest hundreds of years old with urban sprawl where "kids migth play outside", creating an urban structure where it is a challenge getting around by any other means but cars.

Just to relate to TFA : this thing can do 40kms with one charge, at max 40km/h.

Now my commute is 25kms two ways. If I use this instead of my bike to go to work and get groceries, I might not make it home without a recharge?

Not convinced.

Re:Doesn't solve the problem (1)

royallthefourth (1564389) | more than 4 years ago | (#31605964)

In my ideal socialist utopia, there would be a collective garden or backyard nearby (a park)

Fixed that for you (1)

QuaveringGrape (1573239) | more than 4 years ago | (#31606318)

I believe you mean "Eutopia" (Good place), as opposed to "Utopia" (Unplace or Notplace).

Re:Fixed that for you (1)

royallthefourth (1564389) | more than 4 years ago | (#31606640)

That's a good tip, but I actually did intend a tongue-in-cheek "Socialism is impossible" cliche

Re:Doesn't solve the problem (1)

zippthorne (748122) | more than 4 years ago | (#31606718)

In the ideal socialist utopia, you wouldn't be allowed to raise your own kids. Parenting is too important to be left to parents. They'd go to an indoctrination camp with a built-in park.

Re:Doesn't solve the problem (1)

royallthefourth (1564389) | more than 4 years ago | (#31606794)

In the ideal socialist utopia, you wouldn't be allowed to raise your own kids. Parenting is too important to be left to parents. They'd go to an indoctrination camp with a built-in park.

That's not at all true; that's against accepted psychological knowledge. I don't excuse the tragedies caused by people like Stalin, but dystopias appear in the real world under every economic system.

Re:Doesn't solve the problem (1)

DigiShaman (671371) | more than 4 years ago | (#31605538)

What the hell are you talking about?! Downtown is expensive. In fact, you will often find parking garages because the land is so expensive. Obviously your definition of what "Downtown" is differs from mine.

Re:Doesn't solve the problem (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31605560)

Buying a shitty house in the middle of nowhere isn't the same thing as decreasing the cost of living.

Re:Doesn't solve the problem (1)

DigiShaman (671371) | more than 4 years ago | (#31605608)

Let me rephrase that..

Land is so cheap in downtown Houston and NewYork, that never in a million years will you find multi-floored parking garages and parking meters. But oh look! A wide open parking pavement as far as the eye can see.

END /SARCASM

Re:Doesn't solve the problem (1)

Wyatt Earp (1029) | more than 4 years ago | (#31605540)

Really? All the "Modern American cities" I've lived in aren't like that.

Portland OR
Seattle WA
Denver CO
Anchorage AK

Anchorage is more car heavy than the other places because well, its cold here alot of the time and people in cold weather cities usually have more cars per person. Heck Anchorage which is the newest of those cities doesn't have on the street parking for the majority of the city streets.

Re:Doesn't solve the problem (1)

royallthefourth (1564389) | more than 4 years ago | (#31605596)

You're very fortunate. Those places are models, really. Also, Philadelphia, New York, San Francisco, and probably others are nice. They are exceptional, though.

In most of the country, it's really impossible to get anything done without owning and using a car for nearly transportation activity.

Re:Doesn't solve the problem (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31605684)

Also, Philadelphia, New York, San Francisco, and probably others are nice.

NY and SF are great, but there ain't nothin' nice about the city of brotherly filth, motherfucker.

Also, our public transportation kinda sucks - expensive and inconvenient. And our zoning people still think that developments all require parking. Kinda sucks, cause it just encourages people to have cars instead of using SEPTA or one of the car sharing services (ZipCar or PhillyCarShare).

Re:Doesn't solve the problem (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31606130)

Don't you have multistory carparks ?

Surely it would be better financially to build buildings and use multistory parking for cars?

Re:Doesn't solve the problem (0, Flamebait)

c6gunner (950153) | more than 4 years ago | (#31606746)

If there was any money to be made in building mass rail transit, you can bet your ass that GM would be all over it. Unfortunately, conspiratards often fail to realize that their own pet "ideas" are either just as ineffective as the accepted solutions, or even more so. Public transit isn't unpopular because of any conspiracy - it's unpopular because it sucks.

Re:Doesn't solve the problem (1)

royallthefourth (1564389) | more than 4 years ago | (#31606804)

Both heavy and light rail networks are popping up and being rejuvenated all across the US right now, actually. GM hasn't stepped up to bid on any of the new locomotives or rolling stock. It wouldn't be prohibitively difficult for them to retool a factory to do that if they landed a fat contract.

Re:Doesn't solve the problem (1)

c6gunner (950153) | more than 4 years ago | (#31606830)

Both heavy and light rail networks are popping up and being rejuvenated all across the US right now, actually.

So are perpetual motion machines. Both have roughly the same ROI, so I'm not surprised that GM isn't interested in either.

Re:Doesn't solve the problem (1)

Eli Gottlieb (917758) | more than 4 years ago | (#31607186)

You're missing the application of this technology: car-trains and public transportation.

Think: you no longer need to wait for a bus when you want to go somewhere. You take out your cell-phone and tell the car-train network the number of people you need to be able to carry, and the network sends a self-driving car to the nearest parking space to your location. You get in and specify where you want it to go. The AI drives you there, using swarm-intelligence techniques for safety. You relax in comfort, and by some method have paid for this service. If you need to go somewhere special, you can bring the car to a location automatically and then drive manually from there.

closer to what i'd like in car electronics (2, Interesting)

Michael Kristopeit (1751814) | more than 4 years ago | (#31605252)

if you are trying to move into my lane, i want my car to be able to send a signal to your car to not allow that to happen. i fully understand the implications and trust our justice system to prosecute rogue signal transmitters. many cars already implement rev limiters, so the only issue is trusting the signal.

FagorZ (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31605276)

goals. It's when Of BSD/OS. A recent Sy5 Admin profits without

Obama lied, America died! (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31605324)

You know it's true.

Networked cars! (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31605334)

Nothing can go wrong with that! Not a thing!

It's the Tron-mobile! (1)

Anonymous Freak (16973) | more than 4 years ago | (#31605356)

C'mon... I'm not the only one that thought it.

Replace bicycles and pedestrians, not larger cars (1)

clem.dickey (102292) | more than 4 years ago | (#31605386)

For me, the kicker is the last paragraph. The likely use is to replace bikes and pedestrians in the Third World, not cars in America.

Re:Replace bicycles and pedestrians, not larger ca (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31605452)

Yup. GM is still trying to move people up the ladder into larger boxes that have more profit per box instead of meeting the demand of people wanting to move down the ladder into smaller boxes that are more efficient but less profitable per unit. But if you hit that untapped market (like the Japanese did in the 80's), it might be better to sell lots and lots of those smaller boxes. This is the muscle car vs. compact story all over again.

Check Scarab also (1)

noddyxoi (1001532) | more than 4 years ago | (#31605480)

http://www.yankodesign.com/2008/11/19/scarab-is-small-scarab-is-fast-scarab-is-hot/ [yankodesign.com] In his MsC thesis that can be requested from the author, he also solves some other traffic problems like flocking in order to reduce commuting time, etc. Basically rationally solving the traffic problem.

The people who matter wont buy this (1)

MikShapi (681808) | more than 4 years ago | (#31605504)

This ain't serious, people.
Yet again, they're aiming at inner-city-dwellers who earn more, pay for more expensive accomodation, need to commute smaller distances and are sometimes willing to pay a premium (most of whom use a prius, Merc SMART, bicycle or motorcycle anyway). Hell, segways will pro'lly outsell this.

This product further violates an agreement the general public have with their car - simply put, if you want mass adoption, your car needs to be a car. It needs to be a 5-seater you can pack your friends/family into, not a souped-up golf-cart. Which this is.

This is a gimick that will be dabbled with in a test site or two, and phased away.

GM are busy being the PALM of the automotive industry. We should be setting our eyes on the company that's busy being a Google or an Apple... way more serious and will pro'lly completely overhaul (read: improve on sufficiently for us to want it) how we see, buy and use cars:

http://www.brr.com.au/event/58986/partner/theaustralian [brr.com.au]

(and several days ago, this: http://www.abc.net.au/insidebusiness/content/2010/s2851753.htm [abc.net.au] ).

yanks: coming your way soon as well.

The race for most boring vehicle is on (3, Interesting)

ickleberry (864871) | more than 4 years ago | (#31605510)

To be honest I'd rather ride a freaking bicycle than this boring enclosed driverless segway. Future tech used to be cool, fast and just plain kick ass. But now its just suck ass, partly due to the whole global warming doomsday environmentalist 'green' 'anything you do is a sin' mentality & paranoid obsession with safety that has been going around.

There should be less of this type of slow driverless segway and more Tesla Roadster, Wrightspeed X1 or even a practical 4 seater without worthless gimmicks like integrated twitter and facebook. There is no reason at all why electric cars should be slow, ugly and boring or even as impractical as this thing is. Basically where is my flying car and get off my lawn.

Re:The race for most boring vehicle is on (4, Interesting)

Princeofcups (150855) | more than 4 years ago | (#31606494)

To be honest I'd rather ride a freaking bicycle than this boring enclosed driverless segway.

As would I, but this is perfect for when the weather does not accommodate bike riding.

Future tech used to be cool, fast and just plain kick ass.

Popular Mechanics sensationalist predictions that never come true are kick ass and exciting. This is reality, and I think it's pretty exciting.

But now its just suck ass, partly due to the whole global warming doomsday environmentalist 'green' 'anything you do is a sin' mentality & paranoid obsession with safety that has been going around.

The fact that this is not a rocket car is due to environmental change? I'm not seeing the logic there.

There should be less of this type of slow driverless segway and more Tesla Roadster, Wrightspeed X1 or even a practical 4 seater without worthless gimmicks like integrated twitter and facebook.

Because those things costs more than the gross domestic product of most small towns around the world. This is a possible design for real people to use, not millionaires.

There is no reason at all why electric cars should be slow, ugly and boring or even as impractical as this thing is.

It's very practical for people trying to get to work, or to the train station, or the local shops. It's not practical for hyper speed travel across country. It's not meant for that.

Basically where is my flying car and get off my lawn.

Your flying car is still not practical. Please go get an engineering degree and help design it if that is what you want. Until then, I'll be happily zipping around waving "ciao." And I don't have a lawn. What a stupid waste of land. Plant some trees already.

Re:The race for most boring vehicle is on (1)

AK Marc (707885) | more than 4 years ago | (#31607070)

Your flying car is still not practical. Please go get an engineering degree and help design it if that is what you want.

Moller almost sells what I want. They have been 10 years away from production since the 1960s. Though they claim "4 years away" now, so at that rate, sometime in 2200 we'll have one. For $80,000, that's what I'd commute in.

This ones problem is image (2, Insightful)

Kitkoan (1719118) | more than 4 years ago | (#31605582)

I don't think this will sell well as most cars and trucks because it's so small. It's like a Prius, small and 'cutesy'. Thing is most people when they buy a vehicle want big, bold/macho, not small and tiny. This is why so many people own trucks, not because they have a need to use it to load things from point a to point b, it's because they want it to be big and send a type of message.

People want their 'must-always-have-with-me' electronics small, but something that isn't meant for your pocket is wanted more as bigger is better.

Re:This ones problem is image (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31605772)

Thing is most Americans when they buy a vehicle want big, bold/macho,

FTFY

There are other nations in the world you know.

Re:This ones problem is image (1)

icebraining (1313345) | more than 4 years ago | (#31605782)

People in the US. Not everyone in the world is like that, and TFA refers to that:

Borroni-Bird acknowledges that the EN-V will be a tougher sell in U.S. cities, where a significant portion of people have grown accustomed to traversing the streets fully enclosed in weatherproof cars, trucks and buses. More likely, the EN-V will appeal more in places such as Mumbai and Shanghai, where urbanites are more used to walking and biking around their cities. "This vehicle wouldn't be as much of an outlier in other countries as it would be in the U.S.," he adds. Places like New York City might require bigger versions of the EN-V or perhaps a dedicated travel lane such as those available for cyclists.

Re:This ones problem is image (4, Insightful)

RightwingNutjob (1302813) | more than 4 years ago | (#31605890)

I don't think this will sell well as most cars and trucks because it's so small. It's like a Prius, small and 'cutesy'.

A prius isn't that small. It's about 'average' sized when compared against a mini, a smart, or even some of the smaller fords and chevys.

Thing is most people when they buy a vehicle want big, bold/macho, not small and tiny. This is why so many people own trucks, not because they have a need to use it to load things from point a to point b, it's because they want it to be big and send a type of message.

People want big vehicles because a whole heck of a lot of Americans live in suburbs or quasi suburbs, where its 5+ miles to the nearest supermarket and the population density is not sufficient to justify a direct bus route from here to there. So even if you are within walking distance to mass transit in these areas, it's a one hour trip vs a 10 minute trip, without having to wait for the bus to come, and without having to crowd on to said bus with enough food to feed a typical family of 2 adults + 2.3 children for a week, and without having to deal with bad weather.

That's a sufficiently drastic difference in quality of life for many people to object to. To put it politely.

As for why trucks/SUVs: Well, until the end of the 1980's you could go out and buy a big station wagon that gave you all the cargo space you could ever want to go grocery shopping for the wife and 2.3 kids, haul plywood and sheetrock for your remodeling/renovation project, and pack the wife and ceil(2.3) kids in comfortably for a road trip, all while getting about 20-25 mpg highway.

Then the first CAFE standards were passed (to stop global warming/reduce dependence on foreign oil, whatever got Al Gore off at the time), and station wagons were no longer profitable to manufacture, what with the huge ass federal tax on them. Trucks, OTOH, weren't covered by CAFE, and people still needed cargo space, so the SUV was invented, and now you get people driving vehicles that are 'bigger' (read: taller), get worse milage than the station wagons did, and don't really have any bigger cargo space. Some are actually shorter and narrower than the station wagons were, and the extra height is taken up by the suspension, so you actually get less cargo space.

So the answer is, as always, blame your congressman.

Re:This ones problem is image (1)

jo_ham (604554) | more than 4 years ago | (#31606540)

All the auto manufacturers needed to do was put the engines they sold in Europe into their American station wagons, and boom - instant mpg benefit. Instead the culture of the SUV arose.

You can't blame the death of the estate car on global warming - there were numerous ways to solve the CAFE issues. The auto industry of course took the path of least resistance "trucks are immune!" - the real blame is the loophole left in there that allowed them to build cheap, unsafe, uneconomical SUVs instead of actually reducing emissions.

Even China sells cars that get better economy than most US vehicles, and it;s not from lack of technology on the part of the US makers - Ford especially, makes market-leading cars in several classes in the UK (none of them SUVs) with excellent engines and vehicle models. It just has to compete here, rather than just building an SUV that has a regulation test that essentially boils down to "does it have wheels? yup! put it on sale!".

Re:This ones problem is image (1)

newcastlejon (1483695) | more than 4 years ago | (#31605910)

Small is relative. Here in Europe the Prius is a fairly average-sized car. Not cutsey to my eyes (fugly in fact), but that's subjective. I think you're right about 'truck' owners, I imagine most people that buy trucks in the States do so for the same reason that people here buy Chelsea tractors.

What's worrying to me is the ever more common sight of a Dodge or suchlike in my city centre. Now, this isn't going to go down well, but I've yet to see an American car that I found aesthetically pleasing. Again this is all subjective, obviously

GM... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31605644)

Lean over here so I can smack you.

Not for the US (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31605838)

According to the article, they acknowledge that their target market is not the US, but it's a prototype for the kind of vehicles that will be needed in the future, a future where cities are more crowded than they are now. Peoples' needs will change and autos will adapt to meet them. It's narrow-minded to dismiss concepts like this as a folly.

The first question I ask myself... (1)

westlake (615356) | more than 4 years ago | (#31606054)

...when I look at something like this is why does it has to look so ugly and off balance?

The second is how do I fight my way to work and back in wind and rain and snow? On streets with bone-breaking potholes only a Jeep Cherokee could love.

 

Re:The first question I ask myself... (2, Interesting)

WillDraven (760005) | more than 4 years ago | (#31606548)

One word: Ice. [youtube.com]

Unless these things have spikes that come out of the wheels there is no way they can stay up when the roads freeze.

needs to be at autopilot software standards and no (1)

Joe The Dragon (967727) | more than 4 years ago | (#31606576)

needs to be at autopilot software standards and not rush past QA xbox360 standards.

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