Professor Larry Burns and the ENV at the 2011 International Transport Forum (ITF) on Driving the Nation

Lawrence “Larry” Burns is a Professor at the University of Michigan. He is also the former head of research and development for General Motors. Burns was at the 2011 International Transport Forum and showed the Electric Network Vehicle (ENV).

The EVN incorporates most the attributes of DARPA’s urban challenge of autonomous vehicles, Googles cars and car-to-car communications. The ENV was first shown at the 2010 Shanghai auto show, and with permission from General Motors Burns showed the video at the 2011 International Transport Forum (ITF).

The ENV is a 600 pound electric vehicle that can fit 5 ENVs into one traditional car space. Each car communicates with the other car on the road, therefore avoiding any accidents. In a country, China, full of automobile accidents and electric bicycles this could be a natural progression.

From GM’s press release:

LAS VEGAS “ General Motors EN-V concepts made their North American public debut at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas this week, following a six-month run as main attractions at the 2010 World Expo in Shanghai.

EN-V, short for Electric Networked Vehicle, is a vision of the future of urban personal mobility. Three different EN-V designs represent distinct characteristics that emphasize the enjoyable nature of future transportation: Jiao (Pride), Miao (Magic) and Xiao (Laugh).

Using a driving course set up outside of the Las Vegas Convention Center, GM demonstrated the autonomous driving capabilities of EN-V, including a feature that would allow the vehicles to park themselves and automatically return to the user when summoned from a smartphone application.

At less than half the length of a Smart ForTwo six EN-Vs can fit into a standard American parking space while oneself-balancing two-wheeled EN-V provides interior space for two passengers.  Using it’s sophisticated sensing technology, EN-V can detect obstacles in it’s path, including pedestrians or other vehicles, and automatically come to a stop.

“I was a little worried about the balancing before I got in but it felt totally normal, complete natural,” said Mark Harris of the Sunday Times of London, who rode in one of the EN-Vs.

“The field of vision is really impressive as well,” said Pike Research analyst John Gartner. “Its a great sense of being aware of everything around you.”

Following CES, the EN-V vehicles will be on static display at North American International Auto Show in Detroit and make selected appearances around the United States.

About the Author:

Lou Ann Hammond is the CEO of Carlist and Driving the Nation. She is the co-host of Real Wheels Washington Post carchat every Friday morning and is the Automotive, energy correspondent for The John Batchelor Show and a Contributor to Automotive Electronics magazine headquartered in Korea. Hammond is a member of the North American Car and Truck of the Year (NACTOY), Women's World Car of the Year (WWCOTY), and the Concept Car of the Year.