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11 July 2011

Do you envy my En-V?

From inside the bubble, the futuristic EN-V feels like a living organism as it slowly rises from a crouching position, before balancing on two wheels as if they were legs.

Unlike a motorcycle, which has one wheel in front of the other, the two-seater electric car has one wheel on either side of its flimsy body.

The light-weight design makes it as agile as a ballet dancer. Turn the steering wheel hard to the side and the car, if that is indeed the best way to describe this peculiar vehicle, turns on a sixpence.

Push the wheel - which is more of an iPad-inspired joystick - forward and it surges ahead into a sprint at speeds of 25mph (40km/h) or more, depending on how the computer is programmed, delivering a 25 mile (40km) range per charge.

Travelling at such speeds may seem hazardous, given that the car has been designed without bumpers, air bags or any other conventional crash protection devises. However, according to the people who make it, the EN-V - short for electric networked vehicle - is smart enough to avoid collisions.

"Unlike a conventional car, which is designed to prevent its passengers and pedestrians in the event of a crash, the EN-V is more like an aircraft, in that it is designed to avoid crashing in the first place," explains Tom Brown from the research and development department at General Motors (GM).

The most impressive attribute of the EN-V is its ability to communicate, both with other vehicles and with infrastructure such as satellites or buildings. Sensors, cameras and a GPS system help the car see its surroundings and know its location.

The EN-V's two wheels are revealed once the sleek covers are removed
And although it is possible, and indeed great fun, to drive the EN-V manually, it is really designed to drive by itself.

Obviously, it cannot do this safely in streets where cars controlled by people might drive into it.
Instead, the EN-V was designed to operate within specially created zones, be they limited areas such as the Olympic Park in London or entire cities that only allow autonomously driven cars.

Thanks to the BBC for the lovely descriptive text!! We are definitely looking forward to finding more out about the EN-V.   Cool concept but lets hope it is more "I Robot" than  "pushchairs for grownups".

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