Segway powers EN-V with vision for 2030 transport at Expo 2010 Shanghai

An artist rendering of the Jiao EN-V concept in Shanghai, China. Courtesy of General Motors.

Live from Shanghai, Segway is pleased to show the results of a collaboration with General Motors and its joint venture partner SAIC. At a media event in China today, the companies demonstrated three EN-V concept vehicles – all of which are powered by a Segway-developed chassis and electric drivetrain that take dynamic stabilization to a whole new level. The vehicles are our expression of the Expo’s theme “Better City, Better Life.

Meet Jiao (Pride), Xiao (Laugh), and Miao (Magic). Courtesy of General Motors.

You may recall last year in New York seeing an early version of what we’re unveiling today. The P.U.M.A. prototype was quickly developed as an early demonstration of what’s possible when you take the minimalist elegance of the Segway PT and apply it to multi-passenger vehicles. We’ve been working hard since then to add capability to get to what you see today in the EN-V vehicles: more power, more range, more speed, more payload, and the capability for autonomous operations, and interconnectivity.

EN-V cabin overlaid on Segway's proprietary chassis and electric drivetrain

See a video of this below. embedded by Embedded Video

YouTube Direkt

Segway Advanced Development
With the Segway PT, you get personal transportation like none other. It’s compact, clean, and even fun to use. With the EN-V, you get all that in a two-person package that sets the vision for transportation in 2030. Segway worked closely with GM to create a powerful platform that could stand up to the demands of repeated use throughout the Expo. We created it as an open platform for customization so the control and the dynamics can even be customized to the driver’s preferences.

embedded by Embedded Video

YouTube Direkt Segway chassis and electric drivetrain animation

How does it work?
Segway took a technological leap by linking the chassis containing the electronics, sensors, motors, and wheels by an articulated slide mechanism to a rectangular section that houses the batteries. That section contains the equivalent of eight standard Segway PT batteries that are joined to function as one. They’re clean when in use and overall, the vehicle is about five times as energy efficient as the average U.S. passenger car. The battery section is also the mount point for the coaches, which were designed by three different GM design studios around the world.

A look at the inner workings of the Segway-developed EN-V chassis and electric drivetrain

This articulated drivetrain can autonomously power itself up from its parked state on the small front two parking wheels by shifting its center of mass and moving the two primary drive wheels. Once in this balanced and dynamically-stabilized state, it can continue to operate autonomously, be driven manually, or a combination of the two based on input from its many sensors.

Why dynamic stabilization?

Dynamic stabilization is the best way to carry a significant amount of mass up high. Think about when you walk. You have a high center of gravity (somewhere in your midsection). To keep from falling over, you move your feet to always stay underneath that center of gravity point. In the EN-V concept, there’s the ability to carry two people in the coach over a very small footprint. The laws of physics prevent the same sort of fluid performance in a simple four-wheel configuration with similar mass distribution. As an added benefit, you also get the ability to literally turn on a dime, which enables extremely tight operation and parking.  If we ever want to really deal with congestion, we need to explore the reduced footprint and high maneuverability that balancing vehicles like the EN-V can offer.

Mechanics are only half the story.
While Segway’s efforts were focused on how to power the EN-V concepts, demonstrating the power of connectivity is also a primary goal of General Motors and its partner SAIC. And it’s impressive.

Here are a few selected capabilities present in the EN-V:

  • Ever wished for a “virtual valet?” Imagine clicking a button on your phone as you’re finishing dinner to have your vehicle find its way to you. Using an array of GPS and other sensors, the EN-V is at your service.
  • Platoon away. One of the biggest creators of pollution is the “stop-and-go” effect in traffic. You know, like those times when you sit stuck in traffic, only to speed up shortly later and wonder why it is you were stopped.  Because EN-V’s can talk to each other, there’s no need for human reaction time to cause slag. They can join up and travel closely together via dedicated lanes to get you where you need to go.
  • Sensing. Sensing. Sensing. Avoid collisions from other vehicles and obstacles too using vision, ultrasonic, and Doppler sensors.
  • Connect and consume social networking/infotainment content. The lack of a traditional steering column and dashboard means that options are endless for customized content. Connect with other drivers, pull in other services, get smarter about your commute.

The EN-V vehicles will be the main stars at the GM/SAIC pavilion at the World Expo starting May 1. Today’s demonstration in Shanghai was the first time the public have seen the vehicles, which will be part of a choreographed performance operating 30 times per day for the six month duration of the Expo. If you plan to be in Shanghai, please attend the Expo and make reservations to stop by the GM/SAIC pavilion.

Stay tuned to The Last Mile for more updates from China. If you’re not already following us on Twitter, do so @SegwayInc and look for the #GMenv hashtag.

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