Focus on safety features in development of PMDs

I do not understand why the Schaeffler Hub for Advanced Research lab at the Nanyang Technological University is spending its resources on developing devices like the Schaeffler electric skateboard (New lab aims to transport you to the future; March 21).

This personal mobility device (PMD), which can be accelerated, steered and braked with just one hand, sounds like just another dangerous device to be put on our pathways.

Looking at the current lot of PMD users, it seeems that many are still not responsible and educated enough on the rules of safe riding.

It is becoming increasingly common to hear of accidents.

Officers from the Land Transport Authority (LTA) have had to impound some of these PMDs in recent enforcement rounds (LTA cracks down on errant PMD users; Feb 25).

With a 25kmh speed limit currently imposed on PMDs, I question how useful the acceleration feature would be in the electronic skateboard and other similar gadgets that could be under research and development.

With a joystick for steering, users of these devices would also likely be zipping more between pedestrians.

It is likely that all these features will perpetrate dangerous riding.

It would make more sense for funding to be channelled away from developing plainly futuristic PMDs and towards ones that are safer.

They could include features that could detect, say, the density of human traffic and the levelness of the ground, and automatically slow the PMD down, if necessary.

What we need are safer riding gadgets, not those that try to be futuristic in an attempt to impress.

Wendy Yuen Woon Yoke (Ms)

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on March 23, 2017, with the headline 'Focus on safety features in development of PMDs'. Print Edition | Subscribe