This summer Dutch company Oxboard claimed that its self-balancing device, the Oxboard, wasn’t going to be affected by all the speed and permit issues that the Segway had to endure. In fact, it’s worse: the Ministry of Infrastructure and the Environment has kaboshed Oxboard’s plans to be used as a form of transportation, saying ‘it’s just a toy’.
The Oxboard is also not allowed on the sidewalk, not that most Dutch cities have wide enough sidewalks, and can only be used on people’s own property, which is impractical. To be able to be recognised as a ‘special scooter’, the Oxboard needs ‘a proper steering system and braking system’, and according to the Ministry it has neither. Then again, Dutch law isn’t completely clear about what constitutes steering and braking, as the words used are ‘properly functioning steering system or operating system’ and ‘properly functioning braking system’, both of which the Oxboard has.
Being able to steer the Oxboard with your feet should count for something, however, if you search for Oxboard videos on the Internet you’ll get a lot of kids playing around with one as it if were a toy. To be continued.
Earlier this year Dutch company Oxboard launched a two-wheeled, self-balancing transport device that looks like a cross between a Segway without handlebars and a skateboard. It uses four gyroscopes that correct balance in real time, allowing users to go backwards and forwards, and spin around. The Oxboard’s maximum speed is 15 kilometres per hour and a full battery can transport you for 20 kilometres.
Currently only available through the company’s website with a price tag of 799 euro, Oxboard was designed in Eindhoven and is manufactured in Asia. It is both for business and pleasure, and will soon be presented in Berlin at a major trade show in order to entice the rest of Europe. Although not my cup of tea, I can’t find anything really wrong with it except for the prohibitive price, which might go down eventually.
A 45-year-old man from Ootmarsum in the province of Twente lost his driving license yesterday after getting caught Segwaying under the influence.
According to the local police a breathalyser test showed that the man had a blood alcohol level of 995 µg/l, which is far above the legal limit. Segways are considered a special type of moped in the Netherlands. They aren’t allowed to go faster than 25 kilometres per hour and driving them doesn’t require a driving license, but the law says that if you get caught operating any type of motor vehicle while under the influence of a certain amount of alcohol, the police may still take your car driving license.
If the man had been caught while riding a bicycle, the police would simply have sent him walking with his driving license still firmly in his wallet. It will be at least 13 days before his license is returned to him, unless the public prosecutor decides the drunk Segway driver is such a menace to society that he must be brought before a judge. In that case, the public prosecutor gets to hold on to the license a little longer.
“All the other countries around us are using Segways, why can we?” Because we aren’t forerunners when it comes to innovation, we’re the ‘wait and see’ type. And all the other countries around can buy Segways, but not necessarily use them at will. Germany, Spain, Belgium, Austria and the UK sell Segways, but this doesn’t mean they are legal there or even will be.
However, if – and that’s a big if – you can believe what Wikipedia says about bans in other countries, the Netherlands is far from being alone. Australia, Sweden, Canada, and many US states have problems and proper arguments against using Segways.
Today the Dutch government will be debating trying to impose a licence for Segways like on other motorised vehicles, a process that could take another 1.5 years and possibly see Segways legally on the road/bike paths by 2010. As for ‘countries around us’, Denmark has classified the Segway as a moped and Germany is still conducting local pilot projects, but has not made it legal yet.
However, Segway Nederland says this is all a huge delaying tactic (no kidding), which is not only hurting their business and frustrating users, but defeats the purpose of ‘going green’, a major plus point of the Segway. And what’s really annoying to Dutch Segway fans apparently is that EU rules just say let local government regulate it, we’re OK with that.