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GM Rides a Rickshaw to China

The strange, but surprisingly fun, two-wheeled electric pod could be successful there.
August 19, 2010

Last year when GM first introduced a prototype two-person vehicle called Puma, which is based on the two-wheeled Segway platform, I was intensely skeptical. It was designed for cities, supposedly, but it looked like it would get squashed like a grape by massive taxis on the streets of Manhattan. After I took a test spin, I was partly won over–it was responsive, fun to drive and, since it could turn in place, easily maneuverable. But it still seemed like a doomed idea.

Now that GM’s taken an updated version to China, however, I think I get it. This week it’s been showing off an updated version of the vehicle, called the EN-V, at the World Expo in Shanghai, a city where the vehicle makes perfect sense. Drivers there are already used to dodging scads of bicycles and scooters and wandering pedestrians. Commuters there show no fear of squashing–outside of subway stations they jump on the back of motorcycle “taxis,” which tear off recklessly through crowds, the passenger wearing no helmet. As people can afford it, they’re switching from bikes to cars to get out of the rain and smog, and that’s making traffic jams ever worse. The EN-V would be a perfect alternative, one that would ease congestion and smog alike.

And the new versions of the vehicle being demonstrated there look a lot more solid, spacious, and stylish than the first prototypes. I can imagine people wanting to buy them and be seen in them.

Deep Dive

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Five poems about the mind

DREAM VENDING MACHINE I feed it coins and watch the spring coil back,the clunk of a vacuum-packed, foil-wrappeddream dropping into the tray. It dispenses all kinds of dreams—bad dreams, good dreams,short nightmares to stave off worse ones, recurring dreams with a teacake marshmallow center.Hardboiled caramel dreams to tuck in your cheek,a bag of orange dreams…

Work reinvented: Tech will drive the office evolution

As organizations navigate a new world of hybrid work, tech innovation will be crucial for employee connection and collaboration.

lucid dreaming concept
lucid dreaming concept

I taught myself to lucid dream. You can too.

We still don’t know much about the experience of being aware that you’re dreaming—but a few researchers think it could help us find out more about how the brain works.

panpsychism concept
panpsychism concept

Is everything in the world a little bit conscious?

The idea that consciousness is widespread is attractive to many for intellectual and, perhaps, also emotional
reasons. But can it be tested? Surprisingly, perhaps it can.

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Illustration by Rose WongIllustration by Rose Wong

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