Back to the Future 2 almost made an accurate prediction on transportation in 2015: the hoverboard. Teenagers can now zip through sidewalks effortlessly with their two-wheeled, gliding motorized scooters. The movie missed the part about hoverboards being able to fly, as current hoverboards run on two wheels. They do move fast enough to attract trouble, however, and the U.S. has already banned the speeding scooters from airports due to the potential havoc they might cause.
On a more pressing note, the movie also missed the part where the hoverboards could catch fire. While the fad may be growing after taking over sidewalks and social media, there have also been incidents of fire and explosions — something that wouldn’t have gotten past a HALT/HASS product testing.
When the Troublesome Toys Catch Fire
The fire hazard warning didn’t come with the hoverboard safety manual. The dangerous part is that there have been several instances of hoverboard explosions in different circumstances, so there is no way for consumers to avoid any possible accidents. While there have been common occurrences of hoverboard explosions while charging, there was a case of a hoverboard that caught fire while sitting in a shopping mall.
The hoverboard explosions have even led to a large-scale fire and the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) estimates that it will cost over $2 million in property damage.
A Lack of Safety Standards
The CPSC conducted an investigation in December 2015 and declared the hoverboards unsafe. As it turns out, the CPSC found a fundamental design flaw in the two-wheeled scooter and discovered that hoverboard manufacturers did not follow a safety standard while creating the hoverboard.
As a consequence, retailers such as Amazon and Target Corp had to take their self-balancing scooters off the market due to the subsequent recall of 501,000 hoverboards. Due to the shoddy lithium ion batteries used in the hoverboard, the CPSC released a new standard in February 2016 encouraging manufacturers to make adjustments to their current products.
The hoverboard recall incident epitomizes the apparent lack of quality control of some manufacturers. It serves as a reminder of the dangers of a broken patent system, and how failing to maintain a safety standard could have disastrous consequences.