Personal transporter

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A personal transporter (also electric rideable, personal light electric vehicle, personal mobility device, etc) is a class of compact, electric or internal combustion vehicle for transporting an individual at speeds that do not normally exceed 25 km/h (16 mph). They include electric skateboards, kick scooters, self-balancing unicycles and Segways, as well as gasoline-fueled motorized scooters or skateboards, typically using two-stroke engines of less than 49 cc (3.0 cu in) displacement.[1][2] Many newer versions use recent advances in vehicle battery and motor-control technologies. They are growing in popularity, and legislators are in the process of determining how these devices should be classified, regulated and accommodated during a period of rapid innovation.

Excluded from this legal category are electric bicycles (that are considered to be a type of bicycle), electric motorbikes and scooters (that are treated as a type of scooter) and powered mobility aids with 3 or 4 wheels on which the rider sits (which fall within regulations covering powered mobility scooters).[3]


History[edit]

Engine of an Autoped, made 1915-1922
MotoBoard combustion engine skateboard, mid 2010s

The first personal transporter was the 1915 Autoped, a stand up scooter with a gasoline engine made from 1915 to 1922. Engine powered scooters and skate boards reappeared in the 1970s and 1980s.

With the rapid improvements in lithium batteries in the late 1990s and early 2000s, a range of new types of personal transporters appeared, and began to spread into use in urban settings for both recreation and practical transportation.

Dean Kamen applied for his first patent for a 'human transporter', the Segway PT, in 1994.[4] This was followed by other patent applications prior to its product launch in late 2001 and first deliveries to customers early in 2002.[5][6][7]

Trevor Blackwell demonstrated a self-balancing unicycle based on the control-mechanism from a Segway PT in 2004[8][better source needed] for which he published open source designs (see Eunicycle). Focus Designs released the first commercially available self-balancing unicycle (which had a seat) in 2008[9] and in 2010 Shane Chen, an American businessman and founder of Inventist, filed a patent for the more familiar and compact seatless device[10] which his company, Inventis launched in 2011.[11]

Chen then went on to file a patent for a self-balancing scooter in February 2013,[12] and launched a Kickstarter fund-raising campaign in May 2013[13] with multiple companies, mainly in China releasing similar products. 500,000 units from 10 suppliers were recalled from the US market alone in July 2016.[14][15]

Louie Finkle of California is credited[by whom?] with creating the first commercial electric skateboards, offering his first wireless electric skateboard in 1997[16][17] and he filed for a patent in April 1999,[18] though it was not until 2004 that electric motors and batteries had sufficient torque and efficiency to power boards effectively.[16][19] In 2012 ZBoard raised nearly 30 times their target for a balance controlled electric skateboard on Kickstarter,[20] which was well received at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas in January 2013.[21]

In December 2016 The Verge magazine suggested that 2017 would be an "important year" for personal electric vehicles of all sizes.[22]

Terminology[edit]

The terminology for these devices is not yet stable (As of 2017) as the media and legislators discuss a rapidly emerging potential class of motor vehicle and its relationship to laws relating to other transport devices, including electric bicycles and mobility aids such as mobility scooters.[22][2] Commonly used terms are used for these new devices include:

Media: rideable,[23][24] electric rideable,[22][25] electric personal transporter,[26] personal electric vehicle,[27] personal transporter[28] portable electric vehicle[29] portable personal vehicle[30] and portable transporter.[31]

Legislative: personal mobility device (Singapore,[32] Australia - Victoria Transport Policy Unit[2]) personal e-mobility device (Underwriters Laboratory),[33] electrically motorized board (California USA),[34] personal light electric vehicles (European Union),[35] electric personal assistive mobility device (Washington State USA),[36] powered transporters (UK).[1]

Other languages: Engins de déplacement personnel (French)[37][38]

Types of personal transporter[edit]

Motorized scooter[edit]

Gasoline-fueled 155 cc (9.5 cu in) four-stroke single Autoped Ever Ready

The earliest example of a motorized scooter, or standing scooter with an internal combustion engine, was the 1915 Autoped, made in the US until 1919 and in Germany until 1922.

Electric standing scooter[edit]

An electric standing scooter with a small platform with two or more wheels driven by an electric motor which fold for portablity.

Electric skateboard[edit]

An electric skateboard is an electrically powered skateboard controlled by the rider shifting their weight and in some cases also a hand-held throttle.

Self-balancing scooter[edit]

The self-balancing scooter is a category of personal transporter which includes all self-balancing powered portable devices with two parallel wheels; these include the Segway PT, the Segway miniPRO and self-balancing hoverboards.

Self-balancing unicycle[edit]

Boy riding an electric unicycle

A self-balancing unicycle is a single-rider electrically powered unicycle that automatically keeps itself upright using computer-controlled gyroscopes, accelerometers.

Hybrids[edit]

The Onewheel has elements of an electric skateboard (it is powered) and a self-balancing unicycle (it has one wheel).

Concept devices[edit]

The Honda UNI-CUB and its predecessor the Honda U3-X are concept seated devices that are fully stable that can travel sideways as well as in the forwards/backwards axis.

Technology[edit]

Batteries[edit]

Most devices are powered by rechargeable lithium-ion vehicle batteries, and often 18650-size LiFePO
4
batteries controlled by complex battery management systems. Lithium polymer batteries are being tested for higher performance.[39]

Many devices now contain one, or sometimes two, batteries in the 101 to 160 Wh (360 to 580 kJ) range, which fall within the sizes that can be carried on an airline.[40][41] Airlines may restrict carrying some devices due to the earlier product defects.[42] As a rule, every 100 WHours of capacity will provide 6-7 miles of range.[43]

The price of lithium batteries fell 80% between 2011 and 2017.[44] These batteries, which have good energy density, energy-to-mass ratio provide the range, torque, operational life required,[45] unlike the previously available lead–acid, NiMH and NiCad technologies.

Brushless motors[edit]

Many of these devices use brushless DC electric motors with permanent magnets attached to the moving hub which turns around a fixed armature which offer high efficiency, good speed-torque characteristics and low weight. This motor is often built into the wheel itself, eliminating gears and drive belts.[46] Many devices have a motor in the 250-500 watts range which provides good performance for an adult rider on the flat and on an incline, with sportier models using motors in excess of 1500 Watts.[47]

Brushless DC motors, which often have regenerative braking, also need complex motor controllers.[48]

Internal combustion engine[edit]

International regulation[edit]

Segways in Germany have a red tail light and a vehicle registration plate

Asia[edit]

China

In Hong Kong, the Transport Department issued a statement saying that under the Road Traffic Ordinance, these self-balancing hoverboards are classified as motor vehicles, since they are mechanically propelled: "Registration and licence is required before any motor vehicle is used on the roads, including private roads. However, since the construction and operation of these motor-driven devices could pose a danger to the users themselves and other road users, they are not appropriate to use on roads, hence they cannot be registered and licensed."[49]

Israel

In 2006, the Segway PT was approved for use on sidewalks and other pedestrian designated locations, and on roads without sidewalks, with obstructed sidewalks or sidewalks that lack curb cuts. The user must be over 16 years old. No license is required. The maximum allowed speed is 13.5 km/h (8.4 mph), enforced by electronic restriction put in place by the importer.[50]

Japan

In a court, Segway PT was classified as a motorcycle, owing to the power output;[51] however, there is no report of registration. Segway Japan, an authorized dealer, sells Segways only to corporations to use in facilities.[52]

Saudi Arabia

In Mecca they were banned after a video of a pilgrim, using it during hajj on a hoverboard was posted on social media.[53]

Singapore

Devices can be ridden on the sidewalk at speeds of up to 15 km/h (9.3 mph) and cycleways at speeds of up to 25 km/h (16 mph) whilst providing pedestrians with the right of way. Devices must be fitted with lights or alternatively the rider must wear a luminous jacket. They are not allowed on the roadway.[54] In December 2016 the Land Transport Authority started a 6-month trial where devices were allowed on trains and buses at all times.[55]

Europe[edit]

The European Committee for Standardization (CEN) has been in the process of defining a standard for personal transporters, referred to as 'personal light electric vehicle', including both self-balancing vehicles and standing vehicles with maximum speeds of up to 25 km/h (16 mph) and is expected to complete its work by the end of 2017.[56][57] In the mean time the some countries have allowed personal transporters to be used on public roads with certain conditions:

Åland islands

A law revision by the Government of Åland concerning "small electrically powered vehicles" means the Segway PT and all other mainly one person electrical vehicles have been classified as bicycles since March 14, 2012.

Austria

The type Segway i2 is (width 63 cm) narrower than the 80 cm (31 in) width limit and has a low-enough maximum speed to come under laws relating to electric bicycles and therefore has to use cycle lanes and paths, otherwise street lanes. The type Segway x2 reaches with its bigger wheels 84 cm width and is therefore an electric vehicle, that needs a license and insurance. Neither type may use sidewalks (lengthwise) or pedestrian zones (unless exemption stated).

Belgium

In Belgium the law was recently adjusted allowing electrical motorized devices to the public road. Art 2.15.2.[58] Devices with a max speed of 18 km/h (11 mph) can ride on the cycle path. One can also use these devices on sidewalks at walking pace. Devices with a higher maximum speed are subject under the existing rules for motorised vehicles. An insurance and protective wear will be required in any cases.[37][better source needed]

Croatia

Use of a Segway PT is allowed within city limits wherever pedestrian and bicycles are allowed, i.e., sidewalks, bicycle paths, parks, etc. Segways can be rented for city tours in cities of Zagreb, Split and Dubrovnik.

Czech Republic

As of 2016 devices are allowed on pavements at a speed not exceeding that of pedestrians and on cycling lanes at up to cycling speed. A new clearer framework is being developed by the road police in major cities.[59]

At least since the autumn of 2010, the Ministry of Transport enforced the interpretation that a rider on the Segway PT is considered as a pedestrian. The amendment act 48/2016 Sb., in force since 20 February 2016, defined a new strange term "osobní technický prostředek" (= personal technical device/medium) for "personal transporter with selfbalancing device" and "other similar devices". However, the text of the act uses a term "osobní přepravník" ("personal transporter") in that sense instead. Municipality can restrict their traffic by municipal decree, but such a restriction needs to be marked by road signs. Since 21 March 2016, a new ordinance of the Ministry of Transport, 84/2016 Sb., which introduced several new road signs, is in force:[60]

On 19 July 2016, the Prague Council approved a decree (in force since 3 August 2016) that Segways (strictly speaking all "personal transporters" as defined by law) are forbidden in the Prague Conservation Area, Prague 7 and part of Prague 4[61][62]

Denmark

The Segway PT is classified as a moped (knallert). As such vehicles must be fitted with lights, license plates and mechanical brakes, the Segway is effectively banned from public roads.[63] A trial where the Segway would be classified as a bicycle has been announced running from June 1, 2010 to April 1, 2011. The trial was extended to December 1, 2011, and later to the end of 2014.[64]

Finland

In September 2015 authorities in Finland recommended that personal transporters should be made legal for use on roads, making a distinction between devices with a maximum speed of 15 km/h (9.3 mph) which would be treated as pedestrians and ones with a maximum speed of 25 km/h (16 mph) which would be treated as bicycles.[65]

Segway PTs are classified as low-power mopeds and therefore require license plates, effectively banning the use on public roads. On March 31, 2015, The Ministry of Transport and Communications of Finland started progress to propose changes to law to allow Segways under 25 km/h on sidewalks and reclassifying them as bicycles. Like bicycles, Segways would be required to include safety reflectors and a bell to alert pedestrians and the driver is required to wear a bicycle helmet.[66]

France

Segway PTs, also named "gyropode", are equivalent to pedestrians and obey the same rules and laws.[citation needed]

Germany

In Germany self-balancing hoverboards are not allowed on public streets.[67]

It is not legal to ride solowheels on public roads (includes sidewalks, parks, forest tracks, etc.) in Germany as of June 2017. Because it is considered as a type of motor vehicle the rider would need a test certificate from the Technical Inspection Agency (Technischer Überwachungsverein) to get an insurance. Additionally, the driver would have to pay taxes according to the certificate. However, the Inspection Agency has no valid classification for it, no certificate can be obtained. Hence, riding a solowheel on public road would mean to ride without certificate, without insurance and to evade taxes. It may have severe penalties (up to one year in prison [68]) when a solowheel rider is caught by the police. In contrast, for the Seqway as a two-wheeled vehicle with handlebar, there is a classification which allows to get a certificate and thus, the compulsory insurance.

The Segway PT i2 is generally allowed on bicycle paths and public roads within city limits since July 25, 2009.[69] Outside city limits, the Segway may not be used on federal motorways, federal highways, state roads, and district roads. Bicycle lanes must be used if present. Riding a Segway on sidewalks and in pedestrian zones for city tours requires a special permit. The Segway is classified as an "electronic mobility aid", a new class of vehicle defined specifically for the Segway PT. Segways used on public roads must be equipped with front and rear lighting, reflectors, a bell, and an insurance plate. The driver must have procured a vehicle insurance and hold at least an M type (moped) license.

Hungary

The Központi Közlekedési Főfelügyelet (Central Traffic Authority Board) does not consider Segways to be vehicle, and considers skateboarders, and people moving luggage trolleys pedestrians. Segway riders may use sidewalks and follow rules for pedestrians.[70]

Ireland

Segway PTs are permitted in most public places. They are permitted in certain areas on bicycle paths around Dublin and Cork.[citation needed]

Italy

Use of a Segway PT is allowed within city limits wherever pedestrians or bicycles are allowed, i.e., sidewalks, bicycle paths, parks, etc.[71]

Luxembourg

Segway PTs are legal on bicycle trails and roads. They are the equivalent to electric bicycles and obey the same rules and laws.

Netherlands

In the Netherlands the use of self-balancing hoverboards is illegal on all public roads, it is only allowed on private property. The main reason given is that the vehicle is motorized but has no steering wheel and no place to sit. Therefore, the vehicle does not fall in any category allowed on public roads.[72]

In The Netherlands, any motorised skateboard is not permitted on public roads, including those driven by an electric motor.[73]

In April 2008, the Dutch Government announced that it would ease the ban it had imposed in January 2007 that made it illegal to use a Segway PT on public roads in the Netherlands.[74] Until recently[when?], a tolerance policy was in place due to the inability of the authorities to classify the Segway as a vehicle.[75] However, certain handicapped people, primarily heart and lung patients, are allowed to use the Segway, but only on the pavement. From 1 July 2008, anyone over the age of 16 is permitted to use a Segway on Dutch roads but users need to buy custom insurance.[76] Amsterdam police officers are testing the Segway. In Rotterdam the Segway is used regularly by police officers and city watches.

Norway

Because of the top speed of 20 km/h, the Segway was classified as a moped in Norway. Prior to 2014, there were requirements for registration, insurance, age limit, drivers licenses and helmets to operate a Segway in the country. Therefore, Segways were not originally able to be used legally on public or private roads or on private property in Norway.[77][78] Segways became legal in Norway on July 1, 2014 on all public roads with speed limits 20 km/h or less, sidewalks and bicycle lanes for ages 16 and older without requiring registration or insurance.[79]

Portugal

Segway PTs are legal on public paths from age 18 (and below, when accompanied by adults) as an equivalent to pedestrian traffic[80] and are used by local police forces,[81] and by Polícia Marítima] (a Navy unit), for beach patrolling. They are also used (rented) by tour operators across the country, and by shopping security guards.

Sweden

It was unlawful to use a Segway PT on any public road or pavement in Sweden until 18 December 2008 when the Segway was re-classified as a cykel klass II (class 2 bicycle).[82][83] On 1 October 2010 the Segway and similar one person electrical vehicles were re-classified as bicycles.

Switzerland

In Switzerland, devices with a maximum speed of 25 km/h (16 mph) have an age limit of age 14 years with a licence, and 16 years without a licence.[84]

The Segway PT is classified as a moped with usage of all bicycle circulation areas.[85] Only the PT i2 and x2 (SE) has been approved for use in Switzerland, no NineBot Elite or mini Pro. Every selfbalancing vehicle must be fullredundant. The PT may be used on roads provided that it is equipped with a Swiss Road Kit and a license plate. The Swiss Road Kit has front and back lighting, a battery source, and a license plate holder. Use on sidewalks and pedestrian zones is prohibited. An exception is made for handicapped individuals, who must obtain in advance a special authorization from the Swiss Federal Roads Office. The Segway PT i180 may also be registered for use on specific request. However, the PT i180 must be equipped with a left/right turn indicator system before it may be admitted for road use.

United Kingdom

In England and Wales use of these devices on a sidewalk is banned under Section 72 of the Highway Act 1835.[86] With reference to its use of the carriageway it probably[clarification needed] falls into the category of 'motor vehicle' (defined as 'a mechanically propelled vehicle, intended or adapted for use on roads' by section 136 of the Road Traffic Regulation Act 1984) and as such would be covered by the Road Vehicles (Construction & Use) Regulations 1986 and hence approval through European Community Whole Vehicle Type Approval.[87] The government has been petitioned to allow these devices on the road.[88] While in opposition in 2008, the Conservatives and Liberal Democrats lobbied the Labour Government to change the law to allow Segways to use public cycle lanes.[89] In July 2010, a man was charged under the Highway Act 1835 in Barnsley for riding his Segway on the pavement, and was prosecuted and fined £75 in January 2011.[90][91][92] His conviction was upheld by the High Court on appeal.[93]

In Scotland, it is illegal to ride on public pavements (sidewalks) under the Roads Act, 1984.[86]

North America[edit]

Canada

In Toronto motorized vehicles are not allowed on sidewalks, except for mobility scooters for people who need them.[94]

Restrictions on motorized vehicle use are set by provinces individually. In Alberta, Segway PTs cannot legally be driven on public roads including sidewalks abutting public roads. Segways cannot legally be driven on city-owned bicycle paths in Calgary.[citation needed] Segways are allowed on private land with the landowner's permission. In British Columbia, Segways cannot legally be operated on B.C. roads or on sidewalks because they cannot be licensed or insured as a vehicle in B.C.[95] In Ontario, the Ministry of Transportation started a pilot program allowing Segways to be used by people 14 years or older with a disability, Canada Post door-to-door delivery personnel, and police officers. It was originally planned to end on October 19, 2011, but was extended by two years, and then extended again an additional five years (to October 19, 2018), due to limited participation. Prior to the end of the pilot program, the Ministry of Transportation will assess the data and information gathered from the pilot decide whether to allow Segways and how to legislate them.[96]

United States

In California, as of 1 January 2016 'electrically motorized boards' can be used by those over 16 years old at speeds of up to 15 miles per hour (24 km/h) on streets where the speed limit is under 35 miles per hour (56 km/h) as long as they wear a helmet and comply with drive/drug laws. Boards must be speed limited to 20 miles per hour (32 km/h), be designed for the transport of one person and have a power of less than 1000 watts. Use of these devices on the sidewalk is left to cities and counties to decide. Having monitored this new law for 5 years, California Highway Patrol will submit a final report to the legislature in 2021.[34] University of California, Los Angeles included Hoverboards in a general restriction on the use of bicycles, scooters and skateboards using walkways and hallways in November 2015.[97]

In New York City, self-balancing hoverboards are banned under existing legislation; however, community advocates are working with lawmakers to legalize their use[98][99] but there is no current explanation from the lawmakers relating to electric skateboards.[100]

The Segway PT has been banned from use on sidewalks and in public transportation in a few municipalities and the company has challenged bans and sought exemption from sidewalk restrictions in over 30 states.[citation needed] Advocacy groups for pedestrians and the blind in the US have been critical of Segway PT use: America Walks[101] and the American Council of the Blind oppose allowing people, even those with disabilities, to drive the Segway PT on sidewalks and have actively lobbied against any such legislation.[102] Today, Segways are allowed on sidewalks in most states, though local municipalities may forbid them. Many states also allow them on bicycle lanes or on roads with speed limits of up to 25 mph (40 km/h).[103]

In 2011, the U.S. government Department of Justice—amending regulations that implement title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA)—ruled that the Segway is an "other power-driven mobility device" and its use must be permitted unless the covered entity can demonstrate that users cannot operate the class of devices in accordance with legitimate safety requirements.[104]

A fact sheet published by the US Justice Department states: "People with mobility, circulatory, respiratory, or neurological disabilities use many kinds of devices for mobility. Some use walkers, canes, crutches, or braces. Some use manual or power wheelchairs or electric scooters. In addition, advances in technology have given rise to new devices, such as Segways that some people with disabilities use as mobility devices, including many veterans injured while serving in the military. And more advanced devices will inevitably be invented, providing more mobility options for people with disabilities." There is some allowance in only some very specific circumstances where usage would be considered unsafe.[105] Semi-ambulatory Americans have previously benefitted from Segway use, even in New York City.[106] Segs4Vets provides Segway PTs to permanently injured military veterans.[107]

San Francisco banned the Segway PT from sidewalks over safety concerns in 2002.[108] The District of Columbia categorizes Segways as a "personal mobility device" which means Segway users follow D.C.'s bicycle laws, which do not require Segway users to wear helmets and other protective gear. Users are not allowed to wear headphones with the exception of hearing aids or other devices that only require the use of one ear.[109][110]

Mexico

In Mexico there is no regulation that limits Segway use in public spaces.[111]

Oceania[edit]

Australia

The authorities stated in late 2015 that self-balancing hoverboards must not be ridden on the carriageway or sidewalk in the state of New South Wales since they are categorised as motor vehicles but don't comply with any existing vehicle class. They did also say that 'our road safety experts in the Centre for Road Safety are currently working with their counterparts across the country on national laws and safety standards for these personal electric transport devices, so we can figure out how and where people can use them safely".[112][113] Other states in Australia have yet to make a clear decision or announcement on legality and enforcement, and are relying on existing laws in place.[114] They are free to use on private property.[114]

In Australia laws are determined at the state & territory level, each differing in their adoption of the Australian Road Rules. It is generally illegal to use Segway PTs in public places and on roads throughout Australia.

In the Australian Capital Territory, use of Segways is illegal on roads and other public places, but, as of June 2012, was permitted around Canberra's Lake Burley Griffin and other tourist attractions, subject to training, safety equipment and speed limit requirements.[115][116]

In New South Wales, the Segway has been confirmed by the Roads and Traffic Authority as being illegal on both roads and footpaths. "In simple terms, riders are way too exposed to mix with general traffic on a road and too fast, heavy and consequently dangerous to other users on footpaths or cycle paths."[117] Although this does not render them totally illegal (they may still, for example, be used on private property), their uses are limited enough that they are not sold to the general public.

In Queensland, the use of the Segway became legal on the 1st of August 2013. Queensland transport Minister Scott Emerson noted that it makes sense for Segways to be allowed on public paths across Queensland, given users wear helmets.

In Western Australia, the law enables Electric Personal Transporters (EPT) (Segways) to be used as part of a supervised commercial tour, being run by an operator that holds the appropriate approvals. You may use an EPT on private property. Tour operators should approach the Local Authority where they wish to operate the tour. Local authorities have ultimate responsibility for approving tour operators within their respective areas.[118][119]

New Zealand

In New Zealand the Segway PT is classed as a mobility device, in the same category as a mobility scooter or electric wheelchair. Mobility Devices must be ridden on footpaths where possible, at a speed that does not endanger others, and give way to pedestrians.[120] This ruling might not be consistently applied: in 2011, police in Taupo had to stop using Segways because there is no separate vehicle classification that applies to them, requiring their registration as roadworthy in the same manner as cars.[121]

Gallery[edit]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

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