GM EN-V electric bubble-car is networked, enviably automatic

Remember the EN-V personal transport vehicles we showed you back in March? General Motors has only gone and built the thing -- and our chums over at CNET.com have tried it out.

Remember those EN-V personal transport vehicles we showed you back in March? General Motors has only gone and built one, so our chums over at CNET.com did the only logical thing they could -- they hopped in and went for a spin.

The EN-V, short for electric networked vehicle, is a range of three compact, two-seater vehicles, that are less than half the length of a smart car. They look ludicrous -- like a boy racer stuck a bodykit on a Segway -- but GM says their design will suit us perfectly in the future when we're all living in vastly over-populated, smog-ridden cities. Tomorrow, then.

The EN-V is powered by a lithium-ion battery pack and drives on just two wheels. Like the eerily similar  Segway Puma , it uses gyroscopic sensors to detect its direction and angle of tilt and can independently rotate the wheels forward or backward as needed for balance and propulsion.

The EN-V can be driven manually using a steering wheel that looks rather like a giant Sony PSP, but if you're feeling lazy, it can also drive all by itself. More sensors, including cameras, sonar, GPS and wireless car-to-car communications technology let it see and communicate with its surroundings, allowing it to get from A to B without a driver.

The EN-V is ideal for those who don't want to drive or are incapable of doing so because of a disability or legal reasons such as being too young, or because they're disqualified. It's also ideal for anyone who does want to drive, but can't be bothered to park at the end of a journey.

Simply commute to your destination and instruct the EN-V to drive autonomously to a car park. Later, you can send a request via smart phone asking the EN-V to return to your location.

Unfortunately, the EN-V won't go on sale any time soon. GM believes we'll have to wait another 20 or 30 years before consumers truly need a vehicle of this ilk. While you wait, take a gander at CNET.com's editor at large Brian Cooley putting it through its paces at CES 2010.

 

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