"Look Ma, No Hands": Will GM's New Self-Guided Electric Car Catch on in Macho Middle East?

Will “no hands drivingwork in the macho Middle East?

It seems the race to create the most innovative electric powered vehicles has become even more bizarre: America’s General Motors recently unveiled its new EN-V Robot car in Shanhai China. The vehicle, which uses a GPS type guidance, vehicle-to-vehicle wireless communications system, is being promoted as a vehicle in which its occupants “need not touch their steering wheels ever again.” This concept of “hands off driving” is even more bizarre than the previous “road train” article we wrote about in which several cars will ‘link’ themselves together behind a truck and travel together down the road without their drivers having to steer them. And it also goes one step beyond the Honda U3-X electric unicycle that even goes sideways. Nice ideas but will these catch on in the super-macho Middle East?

This new contraption above, which is based on GM’s Electric Networked Vehicle (ENV), also unveiled in Shanghai will let driving be controlled by its automatic guidance system, that could give newfound mobility to people who are currently too young, too old, or disabled to drive a car normally.

As we asked in the “road train article,” how this new concept might be accepted in the “macho” driving habits of many people living in the Middle East is anybody’s guess. Countries like China and Japan, which have very congested motorways, as well as big metropolitan areas such as London and New York City may take well to this kind of mobility and be preferable to hailing down cabbies, like the TV character Carrie Bradshaw of  “Sex and the City” was often shown doing.

What makes the ENV concept vehicle far superior to the Segway is that two full grown adults can ride in comfort in a fully enclosed car, whereas only one person stands on a Segway, fully or partially exposed to the elements. The ENV also propels its occupants for up to 25 miles (40km) before its lithium ion battery has to be recharged.

This is enough power for not only getting around a busy metropolis, but might even be adequate to take you to and from work as well. And with the added GPS guidance  system, a driver can be using various electronic devices such as notebook computers, IPADS, and other gizmos to utilize vital commuter time that would otherwise be taken up by driving. Imagine: no down time from work.

These kind of electric powered vehicles are not the same idea as those being developed by companies such as Shai Aggasi’s Better Place (they launched taxis in Tokyo this week), where I learned during my visit to their educational and test drive center that one doesn’t have to sacrifice on size and personal comfort to “go electric” when it comes to getting around.

The only catch I can see with this kind of “look Ma, no hands” concept of mobility is that everyone else on the road better be traveling this way too; especially those people who love to weave in and out of traffic, and who love to suddenly turn right when they should be turning left.

Can the GPS guidance system deal with them? I wonder.

:: via www.popsci.com More on electric powered transportation concepts:

Honda U3-X Electric Unicycle Goes Sideways and Self Balances Too

Will China’s Chery Join the Better Place Electric Car Group?

Trekker Electric Scooters Fly Around Busy City Streets

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