Hoverboard bans: America’s three biggest airlines say no to the personal transporter

hoverboard
Ben Larcey/Creative Commons
Airports across the U.S. and beyond could soon find themselves with a growing collection of hoverboards as an increasing number of airlines announce they won’t be letting the machine on their planes.

No, it’s not a move to prevent hoverboard-owning passengers causing chaos on flights by careering up and down the aisle on their self-balancing scooter. Instead, the airlines consider the boards – or more accurately, their lithium-ion batteries – as a fire hazard.

With the two-wheeled transporter set to be one of the holiday season’s biggest sellers, it’s possible that in the coming weeks there’ll be quite a few travelers rolling up to airport check-in desks on their newly acquired toy, unaware of the ban.

But take note, America’s three biggest airlines – United, Delta, and American – have all said that the transportation device will not be accepted as either carry-on or checked luggage, with other U.S. carriers, including Alaska Airlines, Hawaiian, and Jet Blue, also recently announcing a ban.

“Poorly labeled, powerful lithium-ion batteries powering hoverboards are the issue,” Delta said on Thursday, adding that after reviewing hoverboard product specifications, it’d found that “manufacturers do not consistently provide detail about the size or power of their lithium-ion batteries.”

The airline said the battery size and power often exceeded permitted levels for transportation on aircrafts, and that “while occurrences are uncommon, these batteries can spontaneously overheat and pose a fire hazard risk.”

Alaska Airlines, which also announced a hoverboard ban on Thursday, said, “As cool as they are, there’s one big problem: they are not safe to transport on an airplane….Internal short-circuits can occur with lithium-ion batteries, which can then lead to a ‘thermal runaway’ where the battery overheats and bursts into flame.”

Strong demand

With demand for the “hands-free Segway” suddenly so strong, there’s certainly plenty of money to be made. Manufacturers around the world are ramping up production, though it seems some makers are ignoring quality in a bid to keep costs down. Just last week it was revealed that the UK authorities have impounded almost 90 percent of 17,000 boards shipped to the country in the last six weeks over concerns that they could be a fire hazard.

A National Trading Standards’ spokesperson said customs officials had seen “a significant spike in the number of unsafe hoverboards arriving at national entry points in recent weeks.” Many of the problems center on the machine’s plug, cabling, charger, or battery.

News

WhatsApp has 400 million users in India, but no fix for its fake news problem

WhatsApp is struggling to stem the tide of fake news in India, its biggest market. In the last few years, its platform has been inundated with an around-the-clock avalanche of misinformation -- misleading mobs into lynching innocents and…
Cars

The electric Volkswagen ID Buggy makes even Ferrari drivers stop and stare

Volkswagen traveled to the 2019 Geneva Auto Show to introduce an electric dune buggy named ID Buggy, and Digital Trends drove it in California. It's a modern-day tribute to the 1960s Meyers Manx.
Computing

FAA bans recalled MacBook Pro models from all flights due to battery issue

Certain models of Apple’s 15-inch MacBook Pro were recalled in June 2019, and now the device has been banned from flights by the FAA. Affected units were sold from September 2015 to February 2017, and Apple will replace affected batteries…
Product Review

This Porsche has a turbo, a hybrid system, and enough room for your whole family

The 2020 Porsche Cayenne Turbo S E-Hybrid is the most powerful Porsche Cayenne SUV model you can buy. It’s also a plug-in hybrid. Who said electrification was only about saving fuel?
Emerging Tech

NASA wants your help developing autonomous robots to explore other worlds

NASA is asking for the public's help to create the robots which could one day explore the moon, Mars, and beyond. It has launched the second phase of its Space Robotics Challenge to develop autonomous functionalities of the robots.
News

Domino’s swerves around traffic by expanding its ebike pizza delivery service

Your Domino’s pizza could now be delivered to you via ebike. Through a partnership with Rad Power Bikes, Domino’s is hoping to solve the problems of traffic congestion and the difficulty of finding parking for those delivering pizza in…
Emerging Tech

Amazing app promises a full fitness checkup from a 30-second selfie

Researchers at the University of Toronto have developed an app that's able to gather vital health information about users with nothing more invasive than a 30-second selfie. Here's how it works.
Emerging Tech

Europe’s free land could house enough wind turbines to power the world

Think wind turbines aren't a realistic means of powering the world? An international team of researchers have worked out that there is enough available land in Europe to do the job.
Emerging Tech

DARPA’s next robotics competition is an obstacle course in an abandoned mine

Kicking off this week, the DARPA Subterranean Challenge will put 11 robotics teams through their paces in a simulated disaster scenario in a defunct mine system in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.
Emerging Tech

Google’s soccer-playing A.I. hopes to master the world’s most popular sport

Think the player A.I. in FIFA ‘19 was something special? You haven’t seen anything yet! That’s because Google is developing its own soccer-playing artificial intelligence. And, if the company’s history with machine intelligence is…
Emerging Tech

Amazon’s facial recognition updates can detect fear, among other emotions

Amazon’s facial recognition software can detect emotion on people’s faces. The company announced improvements in emotion detection, including: Happy, sad, angry, surprised, disgusted, calm, confused, and fear.
Emerging Tech

The U.S. Army is developing A.I. missiles that can choose their own targets

The U.S. military wants to equip itself with a new type of artificial intelligence-guided missile, which will use A.I. smarts to pursue its targets. Prototypes will be shown off in 2021.
News

UPS partners with TuSimple to test self-driving semi-trucks

UPS has been carrying truckloads of goods in self-driving semi-trucks since May. The vehicles are being tested in Arizona routes between Phoenix and Tucson for better service and efficiency for UPS delivery.
Emerging Tech

Astro the dog-inspired quadruped robot can sit, lie down, and… learn?

Move over Spot! Researchers from Florida Atlantic University have built a new dog robot called Astro. Thanks to deep learning technology, it promises to be able to learn just like a real dog.