Read This Before You Get Your PEV or PMD

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This post goes out to all PEV/PMD enthusiasts who have owned or are going to own a PEV (Portable Electric Vehicle) or PMD (Portable Mobility Device). Read this before you get injured like me. This is my personal experience and I hope that none of you will go through what I am going through now.

ninebot-driving-safety-guide

If you know me personally, I will normally not dish out my personal things on social media or on my blog. However, I decided to share my experiences after some thoughts as I believe it will benefit others.

Story

On the 26th June 2016, I attended the car-free Sunday event in Singapore. This was my second time (read my first time experience here) attending the event with my Ninebot Mini Pro. It was really fun, especially with The Wheelies and my friend, DK. Here is a picture of me taken from a drone.

joe-mini-pro
Photo Credit: Kirby Ong

The official 5km course is very safe and has volunteers along the way in case you need help. As I have had the Ninebot Mini Pro for more than half a year, I got very confident riding it. It is a actually a very safe and fun transportation device if you are traveling on flat surface. With many safety enhancements built in, I can say that it has minimum risk as compared to a hoverboard.

What Happened

Here is what happened on that fateful day. After going two rounds on the 5km route, we decided to call it a day and to have our brunch nearby. This is when the accident happened (in split seconds). In my opinion, it is my fault.

I did not notice a kerb while riding back to the City Hall MRT station and tripped on it. I had a fall (not a bad one) as I was quite prepared for it (since it has a slope there). However, after I fell off, the Ninebot Mini Pro dashed forward unassisted instead of stopping (due to the firmware algorithm). I was worried it might hit someone. So I got up and tried to chase after it.

And maybe because I had been riding on it for some time, my balancing on the ground was affected (the effect is similar to running on a treadmill for some time and suddenly get off from it and try to walk away. It has the floating effect). I had the second fall but this time, I wasn’t prepared. My shoulder hit the pavement. Ouch!

Immediately, my right hand became “strange” and once the adrenaline wore off, the pain set in and I could not lift up my hand. I thought that it was a shoulder dislocation. I had to call off the brunch and went to a Chinese “Tie Da” or “跌打“ physician to have a look.

They took a look and concluded that I might have a dislocation and started to “put it back”. Two men tried their mightiest strength to pull/push back my shoulder but there was no “click” sound, according to them. They tried 4 times. It was the most painful experience I encountered so far. I was told that I will have blue/black around the area.

They advised me to go direct to a hospital or wait for two days and “try again”. I decided to wait. On Monday, I did not feel right and immediately headed to TTSH A&E. After an X-Ray, it was diagnosed that there was a crack on my right shoulder bone. It was not a dislocation. I was put on collar and told to meet a specialist the next day for professional advice. Coincidentally, the doctor that attended to me was, guess what, also a Ninebot Mini Pro user. He totally understand what happened.

The next day, I returned to the hospital to see a specialist (Orthopaedic Department) to decide if I needed surgery. They provided me two options – Self healing or surgery to insert a rod and some screws. I decided not to be operated. Hence, I was given 40 days hospitalization leave to stay at home and to let the bone “recover”. The blue/black is the most serious I have seen in my life. It feels like I was being punch over that area. Until today, it is still there. This is me with a better looking collar (thanks to Juliana). The one provided by the hospital is made out of sponge and adjusted with cable tie. The picture on the right is the blue/black area. Haha.

joe-injured1

What are my Takeaways

Here are the takeaways from my accident: –

  • Never forget to fear because if you ignore fear, it becomes your greatest enemy. (After what happened, I watched this video and can easily relate to it)
  • Understand your equipment (PEV/PMD) and your limits (more about this later).
  • Seek professional help (go to hospital) if you are unsure. I believe my condition became more serious after the “tie da” consultation.,
  • Ride safe and observe the environment. It only take split seconds to avoid or become injured.

Some may think that limb and hand protection pads might help. I think it might on some scenarios but based on the situation that day, it will not. Will I ride again? Definitely YES!

About the Firmware for Ninebot Mini or Mini Pro

This section is for Ninebot Mini users.

Before this incident, I contacted Ninebot on 3rd June to address some issues on the “enhancements” that they had implemented in their latest version of firmware (V1.2.7 and V1.2.8). Based on my experiences, I think that some enhancements can actually be “unsafe”. This is also observed by other community members.

They contacted me and requested that I write direct to their tech side. As a tech person, I do not like to “make noise” without evidence or my personal experience. So, I did more tests to confirm my worries. Unfortunately, I got injured before I can complete that. One of the observations on the firmware is that the assist mode for the Ninebot Mini is making it move faster and faster if it is being pushed forward. Previously, it will slow down.

Other observations are the reduced torque causing the Ninebot Mini to be like a “tortoise” when climbing slope, sounding of alarm when accelerating or turning corners even when it is gently done. One of the most annoyed “feature” is that you will get alarm when you try to reverse (even at slow speed) and it will try to tilt back to “compensate” the reverse, causing some balancing issue.

Screenshot_20160610-232441

Thankfully, Ninebot listens to the users’ feedback. In their latest firmware (V1.3.1), a lot of the issues (that I encountered) have been addressed. I have not tried out the new firmware yet due to my injury but based on Point 2 and 8 (see below), I am sure it will slow down when someone falls down and accidentally push it forward unassisted.

Here are the screenshots.

Screenshot_20160716-155057

And here are the details: –

Firmware Update Record

Version : V1. 3. 1

Update Date : 20160704

Details :

  1. Allow to turn off backward-driving alert by App (require 3. 6. 0 or higher version of App)
  2. Solve the problem that the unit may accelerated by itself at assistant mode.
  3. Speed punishment will be implemented only at serious over-speed or over-power riding.
  4. Speed punishment will be not less than 9. 3mph
  5. Optimize the alert and lean back algorithm for over-power riding.
  6. Solve the problem that when turning too fast there will be a fake alert.
  7. Optimize the threshold value for over-speed riding.
  8. While riding the unit above 3. 1 mph (5km/h) and then there is no rider detection signal (usually because the rider’s weight is too light or rider just jump off), the unit will not go into assistant mode immediately. Instead the unit will alert and lean back gradually until the speed is lower than 1. 25mph (2km/h) or rider detection signal trigger again.

As the saying goes, it is better late than never. The new firmware addresses most, if not all, of my issues. Hope that the torque is back. Can’t wait to ride again.

Summary

Finally, I would like to stress that riding a PEV/PMD is not as dangerous as it seems if we follow the common sense and apply adequate safety riding knowledge. In my opinion, buying the right PEV/PMD is the most important.

DO NOT buy a PEV/PMD because it is cheap. Some cheap models might look the same but does not perform equally. It might not have the safety features found on some of the well known ones. You might ride safely but your device might fail you due to quality.

Riding safely in a public place is our responsibility. With more people owning PEVs or PMDs, there will be a need to enforce the rules.

I will continue to ride again. See you around. I will be back.

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