2015 has been a great year for tech, from the introduction of stunning new smartwatches to the first self-driving cars hitting the roads of Milton Keynes. One of the most talked about dates of the year on social media was the 21st October – Back To The Future Day. It only seems fitting that this was also the year of the hoverboard. It might seem like a novelty for now, but the Swegway has some serious potential.
Swegways – also known as hoverboards or airboards – are a childhood dream come true. Beautifully designed, the sturdy platform has motorised wheels either side, a Segway without the clunky front and handlebars. It’s controlled by balance, so simply step on and lean your body weight forwards or backwards, left or right to steer. Speed is adjusted by how far you lean, with a maximum cruising speed of 10mph, it matches a comfortable bike ride with none of the energy expenditure. Reviewer for The Guardian noted with delight the boards ease of use, “it feels as though you’re communicating with it telepathically.” While splashproof and dustproof, it is worth noting that the Swegway is very m for smooth terrains.
Although the device’s speed and rechargeable battery make it ideal as an environmentally friendly way to commute to work or school, it was recently announced that it’s illegal to ride a Swegway on a public path or highway in Britain. The Metropolitan Police (@MPSSpecials) issued a warning, tweeting in October that, “they’re illegal to ride in public!” Both Swegways and Segways are technically classified as a motor vehicle, they require a license and insurance to be used on UK roads. To date there have been no attempts to design or implement licensing or insurance policies on these devices.
Unlike foldable electric scooter with seat, which have a 4mph speed limit, and mobility scooters, which have their own classifications; Swegways are amusingly banned from public usage under the Highways Act of 1835. This act forbids road or footway users to “lead or drive any horse, ass, mule, sheep, swine, or cattle or carriage of any description.”
Fortunately, Swegways are perfectly safe and legal to use on private property, with the landowner’s permission. There are no restrictions on purchasing the gadgets in Britain, so as a toy they are fine to use. There’s plenty of creative potential to be had on private grounds though, joining in with the Hoverboard dance routine craze that has taken Japan and the US by storm, after a routine to Justin Bieber’s ‘What Do You Mean?’ went viral.