Become a fan of Slashdot on Facebook

 



Forgot your password?
typodupeerror
Compare cell phone plans using Wirefly's innovative plan comparison tool ×
Government Toys Transportation Technology Entertainment News

Feds Say There Isn't A Single Safe 'Hoverboard' (engadget.com) 146

In the Consumer Product Safety Commission's letter to manufacturers, importers and retailers, it urged them to make sure the scooters they make and sell comply with the safety standards set by Underwriters Laboratories, the organization in charge of certifying that products are safe for use. According to UL Consumer Safety Director John Drengenberg, "no hoverboard has passed the certification process at this time."
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

Feds Say There Isn't A Single Safe 'Hoverboard'

Comments Filter:
  • Correction (Score:5, Insightful)

    by fisted ( 2295862 ) on Sunday February 21, 2016 @05:28PM (#51553831)

    There isn't a single [] hoverboard. Big neas.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday February 21, 2016 @05:31PM (#51553845)

    The UL standard is still a draft proposal. I know because I tried to acquire a copy late last week. UL only released the document 1/29 and was prepared to evaluate devices as of 2/6. This is a simply an inflammatory sound byte with no merit.

    Here's UL's own blog post for more details.

    http://www.ul-energy.com/start/the-new-ul-2272-standard-gets-a-handle-on-hoverboard-safety/

    • by msauve ( 701917 )
      Not just that - it's not the feds making the statement (an incorrect claim from the article, carried into the headline here), it's someone from UL trying to instill fear and drum up business for their private, for profit company.
      • it's someone from UL trying to instill fear and drum up business for their private, for profit company.

        I was going to drum up that UL is a not-for-profit, but it turns out that you're right and I'm behind the times. UL went 'for-profit' back in 2012. [cio.com] Though it seems that the for profit branch is still owned by the non-profit parent company [nrc.gov]. So I wonder how the hell that works out.

        I mean, I like businesses. I like companies doing their best to make a profit. Part of the whole libertarian thing. But also as part of the libertarian thing, I'm extremely supportive of non and not-for profits like the UL use

        • by dj245 ( 732906 )

          it's someone from UL trying to instill fear and drum up business for their private, for profit company.

          I was going to drum up that UL is a not-for-profit, but it turns out that you're right and I'm behind the times. UL went 'for-profit' back in 2012. [cio.com] Though it seems that the for profit branch is still owned by the non-profit parent company [nrc.gov]. So I wonder how the hell that works out.

          I mean, I like businesses. I like companies doing their best to make a profit. Part of the whole libertarian thing. But also as part of the libertarian thing, I'm extremely supportive of non and not-for profits like the UL used to be, cooperatives, and employee-owned companies. My ideal utility company, for example, is a cooperative not-for profit.

          UL discarding their 'not-for-profit' status makes me uncomfortable. Before, while I wouldn't term them perfect, I could at least say that the company's primary concern was safety above all else. Sure, they'd charge money - but they needed to keep the lights on. Not needing to turn a profit, they would be mostly immune to the corruption of having to satisfy their customers by passing goods that might not actually be as safe as they could be.

          I used to work for a nonprofit which had a for-profit consulting company associated with them. I was on the nonprofit side. The for-profit side had better pay and benefits, for the exact same experience level and job function. The workers on the nonprofit side envied the for-profit side.

          There are some disadvantages to being a nonprofit. Legitimate ones. Like the allowable retirement plans under IRS guidelines are different than the ones for normal companies and may not be as favorable to workers.

      • by mysidia ( 191772 )

        it's someone from UL trying to instill fear and drum up business for their private, for profit company.

        Let's create a revised version then that isn't designed to drum up business:

        Hoverboards (ESSENTIALLY All of them) are Unsafe. Don't buy one. If you have one, then return it if possible, but whatever you do: do not use it.

        If you find one with a certification from a NRTL, then it may be less unsafe, but it is the exception to the rule that you will find this, so the prospective buyer is advi

    • http://blog.newegg.com/hoverbo... [newegg.com]

      Per newegg:

      More importantly, the latest boards are UL certified. “Underwriters Laboratories” is an independent electronic safety certification so getting that UL stamp is a solid start for hovering confidence. Additionally, board makers have also been advertising their batteries as originating from Samsung or LG. So that’s something.

      And here's one of the UL certified boards on their site:
      http://www.newegg.com/Product/... [newegg.com]
      From the specs, it says, "Battery and Charger are UL & CE Certified"

      It doesn't say the board is certified, but does that matter if the batter and charger *are* certified?

      • by mspohr ( 589790 )

        Most wall wart chargers can be easily certified and these are available off the shelf from multiple suppliers so that doesn't mean anything.
        The battery itself can also be "certified".
        The problem is when you put the battery into a poorly designed and built "hoverboard" (i.e. no current limits, temperature sensors, random wires that can be shorted together, etc.) you can end up with the situation where these things have burned down houses.

        • by mysidia ( 191772 )

          The battery itself can also be "certified".

          UL should probably prohibit manufacturers from using the UL logo on the packaging or sales material for a consumer product, except internal packaging on the listed components, unless all components and the entire product are listed.

          • There are two logos one uses for UL stuff: The backwards UR which means a recognized component, and the UL which means a listed complete product. A claim that the battery being UL listed (if such a thing is even possible) constitutes the necessary safety testing is a bad move, as the entire hoverboard assembly needs to be tested and UL listed for it to have some hope of being safe enough for your insurance adjuster to buy you a new house when your hoverboard burns it down.
            • by mysidia ( 191772 )

              enough for your insurance adjuster to buy you a new house when your hoverboard burns it down.

              Whether a house is burnt down by a UL-listed skateboard or a non-UL-listed skateboard has no bearing on insurance coverage.... they have to pay for the new house (minus deductible), either way.

  • Non-sequitur. (Score:4, Insightful)

    by msauve ( 701917 ) on Sunday February 21, 2016 @05:39PM (#51553869)
    The feds say they must meet a standard. The summary says none are certified to a standard. Those are two different things. A manufacturer could certainly manufacture a product to meet the standard, but not spend the extra time, money and effort to have it certified by a private organization.

    Not saying there are ones which comply, only that the summary makes invalid assumptions.
    • Given these devices would need to pass European Certificate, if they were to be sold in Europe, would the presence of a CE mark be sufficient reassurance that the devices meet some sort of minimum acceptable standard, for sale in the USA? I realise this isn't a US certification, but in the absence of US certification, would this provide sufficient reassurance for them to be sold anywhere? Also, is there a federal US equivalent of the CE mark?

      In this context, are there any 'self-balancing two wheel boards' (

      • Given these devices would need to pass European Certificate, if they were to be sold in Europe, would the presence of a CE mark be sufficient reassurance that the devices meet some sort of minimum acceptable standard, for sale in the USA?

        No. Chinese companies put CE marks on all kinds of scandalous shit that has never been certified, and that would never pass certification.

  • More importantly (Score:5, Insightful)

    by phantomfive ( 622387 ) on Sunday February 21, 2016 @05:39PM (#51553875) Journal
    More importantly, they don't actually hover.

    They are lucky we live in a time with rule of law, because if we were living in Roman times, I would go burn down their factory and get away with it. Makes me mad every time I see those liars mentioned.
    • by sims 2 ( 994794 )

      Now that we have used the word hoverboard to describe a mini Segway what are we going to call boards that hover when we get that figured out?

    • by Anonymous Coward
      "they don't actually hover."

      Oh, but they do. Only briefly though, after the battery blows up.
    • by Trogre ( 513942 )

      This.

      We should have a name for these imposter products cashing in on the geek kudos and general goodwill associated with the name "hoverboard".

      Hoverfraud comes to mind. Any other suggestions?

    • More importantly, they don't actually hover.

      Or do they?

      The underside might be coated with anti-gravitons and the wheels are just there as decoys, so the physicist establishment doesn't get upset and burn down the factory.

    • They are lucky we live in a time with rule of law, because if we were living in Roman times, I would go burn down their factory and get away with it.

      Yeah good thing they didn't build their self balancing electric scooters in Roman times.

  • There is'n t a single safe hoverboard... all of the safe ones are married.

  • For me, things like this come down to the not-so-fine line between personal freedom and involuntary involvement in danger.

    My view on this is the same for magnetic buckyballs, extreme sports, recreational drugs and virtually every other case of self-harm. We should focus on idiot-proofing idiots rather idiot-proofing their houses. Let capitalism allow for people to make their own wise decisions.

    That said, there's a difference between accidentally eating two buckyballs and shoving them down the throat of som

    • Re:Ahh the gray area (Score:4, Interesting)

      by penix1 ( 722987 ) on Sunday February 21, 2016 @06:06PM (#51553975) Homepage

      We should focus on idiot-proofing idiots rather idiot-proofing their houses. Let capitalism allow for people to make their own wise decisions.

      I would agree with you IF the hospitals didn't have to see them when they set themselves on fire or break their neck.

      And capitalism is a poor choice for determining what is safe and what is not. The chase for the all mighty dollar would ensure nothing was safe if left to capitalism. You wouldn't have any of the safety features in cars for example that you have today if left to the manufacturers. They cost money after all.

      • by msauve ( 701917 )
        "You wouldn't have any of the safety features in cars for example that you have today if left to the manufacturers."

        Seat belts, air bags, anti-lock brakes and electronic stability control were all offered as options before being government mandated.
        • by swb ( 14022 )

          Were they offered because the manufacturers were looking to upsell luxury buyers with in-demand safety features, or because they knew these features were going to be mandated on all cars in the near future, and getting people to pay for them as options was just a way to recoup something off the investment ahead of time?

          • by msauve ( 701917 )
            Since you asked, they were offered before any discussion of a requirement. As an example, seat belts were first made available in 1949, but weren't mandated by the feds until the '60s.

            I'll add that padded dashboards, tire pressure monitors and backup cameras all preceded governmental requirements.

            Your turn, name a few safety features which only appeared after regulation was announced.
            • by swb ( 14022 )

              I honestly didn't know. I have a hazy memory of a fight over air bags requirements in cars in the late 1970s, with car makers opposed and now they are standard. I don't remember specific timelines or when proposed mandates became actual mandates.

              • by msauve ( 701917 )
                Airbags were standard in some Chrysler models by 1988, and were available options in some GM models in the '70s. The government requirement didn't happen until 1991 with implementation not required until 1998.
                • by KGIII ( 973947 )

                  That can actually be said for pretty much all automotive safety improvements that are now mandatory. Even safety glass was an option at one time.

                  Someone above mentioned that if you wanted a Civic (without regulation) that had airbags, ESC, ABS, etc. that it would cost $70,000. Err... That specific car had all those as options before they became mandatory. It was not $70,000. I didn't bother to argue with 'em. I'm lazy and tired.

    • by sims 2 ( 994794 )

      Well we could always have common sense added to the common core curriculum it would probably be a better choice than trying to teach everyone advanced quantum mechanics.

      • Well we could always have common sense added to the common core curriculum

        Already tried that. It caused some problems:

        https://www.washingtonpost.com... [washingtonpost.com]

        • by sims 2 ( 994794 )

          Sorry I didn't see anything I would consider a problem in TFA you linked to.
          The only things I think you might be referring to is A. Republicans like sheeple, B. People being able to make their own decisions is somehow a bad thing. or C. You were being sarcastic.

          I'm going with A.

          Anywho Algebra 3 will not help the 99% and we still teach that.

          Why not make sure that they have basic skills like how to open a soda can, use a toilet, open and shut doors, switch lights, use deodorant, bathe, cross the street, etc.

          W

      • by KGIII ( 973947 )

        You know that I respect your opinion, right? But... Commonsense requirements? Expectations? Next thing you're going to be talking about personal responsibility and accountability! No, we can't have that...

        (Which does not mean that the companies who sell shit products in misleading ways are not responsible and/or accountable. They should be held to a high standard of integrity.)

    • by Anonymous Coward

      In addition to the freedom to buy dangerous incendiary devices marketed as toys and the freedom to sell them to unsuspecting buyers, is there not a freedom to be able to buy a device and be reasonably sure that it won't self-combust and kill you in your sleep?

    • The letter in question doesn't appear to have anything directly to do with hoverboard safety from a use perspective (falling off, balance, etc) but more from a mechanical/electrical perspective (component failure, faulty wiring, faulty design, etc). That said I wonder if UL's certification tries to backdoor some of these aspects. Lets face it, the CPSC doesn't have a great track record when it comes to letting people exercise personal responsibility. They're the kind of agency that tries to idiot proof t

    • If the issue with these handlebar-less segway-like-objects were people losing their balance and falling off and hurting themselves, or trying to do tricks and hurting themselves, I'd agree with you. In that case, it'd be no different than a skateboard or rollerblades, really. And yeah, people should know their limits and not try stunts without adequate precautions or eat magnets and so on. And we should not try to legislate away stupidity.

      But this is not a case of user-clumsiness or stupidity. These thi

      • by unrtst ( 777550 )

        But this is not a case of user-clumsiness or stupidity. These things are bursting into flames during routine charging of their batteries when not in use. That makes them a defective product, and IMO crosses the line into the realm of regulation being appropriate.

        And furthermore, when one bursts into flames, it tends to be while charging, which means it's *probably* in a house, which is *probably* in a neighborhood. That one fire is very likely to directly affect more people than just the owner of the board.
        So, to the GP's statement, I agree:

        For me, things like this come down to the not-so-fine line between personal freedom and involuntary involvement in danger.

        ... and in this case, it seems there's a really good case to be made that these do pose unnecessary risk, to both life and property, to innocent bystanders.

        I'd rather have an electric skateboard though (zboard, boosted, marbel,

      • by sjames ( 1099 )

        Exactly this. It's one thing that consumers should expect falls and the usual assortment of bruises and such that come with it, but they have a right to expect it not to burst into flames.

        The sad thing is that as far as I can tell from videos and pictures, the problem is simply really shoddy construction leading to battery wires shorting, at least in the videos I've seen. It's possible that the ones blowing up on the charger are because the charger isn't tapering off properly, also inexcusable.

  • It's not the hoverboards that are unsafe, it's the clumsy idiots riding them that make them unsafe.
    Oh wait, their cheap Chinese batteries light on fire and burn your house down. I almost forgot that.
    • America's Funniest Videos was running out of puppy and kid vids, so this multi-disaster product is a godsend.

  • Thunderf00t found the problem. These boards have a faulty kill switch on their charging system that prevents the batteries from overcharging, or falling below 1% of battery power. A large number of these boards can be over charged which makes them blow up like they do. This is a defect that should be resolved by a class action against the manufacturer, and a recall of the boards to have the charging system retrofitted and upgraded.

    • Thunderfuck did not find the problem. Everyone knew what the problem was.

    • a class action against the manufacturer

      How do you think (assuming you're in the US) you're going to start a class action against a manufacturer somewhere in China, and who may have gone out of business already? Lawsuits are not the fix for your personal responsibility of due diligence when buying toys. These things are currently retailing at prices of (converted) under USD 200 a piece! Far less than I payed for my already cheap smartphone. Batteries, fairly strong motors, electronics - of course corners are being cut to meet such crazy low pric

  • UL is usually for 115v appliances that use an internal supply, low voltage stuff isn't usually UL certified. The wall wart is.
  • You can only pack so much energy in a small space. People want FAST charging. They don't want slow (SAFER) charging because we are now "instant gratification" humans. We don't want to wait for anything. Plus, you can bet the bulk of these things, if not all of them, are manufactured in China, Mexico, Vietnam or other places where QC isn't the #1 priority. Anytime you pack the energy required to make something that demands a high current needed for these scooter boards, you are going to run into problems.
  • What they really meant to say is,

    "There isn't a single hoverboard".

    The closest thing I've seen is the Lexus maglev board+track pair, but that's just a gimmick.

    • The Lexus hoverboard uses superconducting electromagnets and a skate park with magnets in the surface; it requires both charging and refills of liquid nitrogen.

      The Hendo hoverboard works on a magnetic interference effect. It requires a conductive but nonmagnetic surface - copper or aluminum, say - and just needs recharging, but it's rather loud.

      The Hendo is bulkier than the Lexus, but copper or aluminum have GOT to be a lot cheaper than building a magnetic park.

  • Top Hoverboards - Updated February 2016
    Our extensive analysis of the top hoverboards and our pick for your best bet.
    http://bestreviews.com/5-best-... [bestreviews.com]

    "In the end, it comes down to personal preference. These things are an absolute joy to ride around, and it’s no wonder they have become an international phenomenon. If you have the risk appetite for it, you will be sure to have a lot of fun zipping through the street on the hottest toy in town."

  • Because they never hover, but are often on fire.

    Media's obsession with the pleasant lie is something we may never solve, but we don't have to encourage them.

  • It seems the libertarian Sci-Fi authors were right. It is illegal to redesign the skateboard with fewer wheels and add electric motors.

    LOL!

  • Is there a single safe federal government?

    43% of US voters view federal corruption as their main concern.

If you think the system is working, ask someone who's waiting for a prompt.

Working...