Feds say there isn't a single safe 'hoverboard'

No model has passed the government's safety standards yet.

Some universities only allow "hoverboards" on campus if they have safety seals. Unfortunately, that's not as simple as it sounds. 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. That's the organization in charge of certifying that products are safe for use. The bad news is, according to UL Consumer Safety Director John Drengenberg, that "no hoverboard has passed the certification process at this time."

Drengenberg told Wired that most of the scooters they've tested failed their temperature test, which looks at how hot its components get with regular use. "It's one of the more common failure modes that a manufacturer might see," he said, and all those reports of hoverboards exploding and burning these past months support that statement. The CPSC's letter says that from December 1st, 2015 to February 17th, 2016, the commission received reports of 52 scooter fires that caused $2 million in property damage overall.

The CPSC believes that those incidents "would be prevented if all such products were manufactured in compliance with the referenced voluntary safety standards." That's why it now considers all self-balancing scooters that don't meet UL's standards defective. Imports could be seized upon entry in the US and those already sold locally could be recalled. That applies to all hoverboards at the moment, since no model has passed muster yet. Swagway, one of the biggest brands, has told customers to stop using its boards in the meantime.

Things might change soon, though, since UL only introduced its new standards on February 2nd. It takes two weeks to test each model, so for all we know, UL's already testing one that can pass its temperature test. Besides, manufacturers can always redesign their products to ensure they're not prone to blowing up.

[Image credit: Seth Anderson/Flickr]