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Lyft has pulled its entire electric bike fleet from the streets of San Francisco and two other Bay Area cities after a number of cases of exploding batteries. Pictures shared on social media of burnt out bikes clearly reveal that the bike's battery – conveniently located close to riders' crotches – is to blame. In one pic of …
Okay, first off we have a previous startup who couldn't make brakes work. I'm sorry, but I do believe that, in this 3rd millennium of ours, bike brakes are not new and should really not be a problem. This issue smacks of corner-cutting to me.
Then we have Lyft, absorbing the first failed startup and going for the flammable battery release. Of course, Lyft is hardly the first in the flammable battery market, but this is the second issue on the same product with dangerous consequences.
That is starting to look like a trend, and I'm thinking that the beancounters are responsible for it.
Yes, the idea of free or cheap local transport is a good idea. In a Utopian paradise. Someone let me know when they find it as I'd like to move there. In the meantime, please, please ban these expensive, technological littering schemes. No matter how well planned, there will always be people who will damage and vandalise them and others who are just "too busy" or too self-important to take care to collect and return them properly.
Yes, the idea of free or cheap local transport is a good idea. In a Utopian paradise.
Ah, but this is California! So free/cheap local transport has been around for a long while. The humble bicycle has always been a very efficient way to convert calories into motion. Buy a bike, cancel your gym membership, and enjoy your local transport.
Downside is it requires effort. So take a simple bicycle, add batteries, charging* gubbins, motor(s), controllers and install charging infrastructure.. and Voila! Bicycle 2.0, now with added incendiary features! OK, so SF has more challenges than say, Groningen & the Dutch have always been keen on bikes, Probably helped by it's lack of hills.
*Which I'm guessing these bikes will be having the same problems as spontaneously combusting Teslas.
There are millions of e-bikes across the world and they're not spontaneously turning into testicle barbeques. The OP is right, this is pure cost cutting. These things are treated as disposable. That's simply incompatible with safety.
So business start with an idea. Marketing helps them sell that idea. Business does well.
So, everyone gets more money. Marketing falls into the demographic and demand issue, seeing other similar models working, so say 'You need to design it like this so we can take a part of this demographic who want to buy it because see: Evidence' (Just look at laptop design in the last 15 years. Thanks apple. )
So business tells talented Engineers to do it this way. Engineers grumble because they are see the limitations of what is wanted and have to make nonsensical tradeoffs to provide what the busines are saying what people want.
Meanwhile, lots of people are decrying the new products as missing X and Y and why can't we have a longer batter life and they are ignored because no one is buying those things because see: Evidence from marketing. Only the .5mm thick battery ones are selling.
And we all cry: BECAUSE NO FUCKER IS MAKING THEM!
So...if you are a Product Owner, get evidence from everyone EXCEPT marketing.
...get evidence from everyone EXCEPT marketing.
The only purpose of marketing droids is to sell.
Don't give a rat's toss about what they sell, who they sell it to or for what purpose, much less the consequences it may eventually have.
Their main objective is only the end of year bonus for increasing sales and shareholder's profits.
Of course, there is a chain of command involved which starts at the board.
in a state KNOWN for it's over-litigation, a company did... WHAT?
Lithium _IS_ _THE_ _MOST_ _REACTIVE_ _METAL_ _ON_ _THE_ _PLANET_ Let it get outside of its protective container, and it WILL burst into flames and explode, reacting with LITERALLY everything!
That being said, who made the batteries? El Cheapo Battery Company, LTD from Ali Baba web site, right?
Yeah THAT'll keep costs down. And customers in pain.
Don't get me wrong, an electric bike service where you could "just grab one" sounds convenient, but here in San Diego we've had a LOT of problems with bike rental companies [the non-leccy kinds] and people leavng the things in (being kind) INCONVENIENT places.
People are (in general) pigs, in other words, without motivation to NOT be pigs. Self-disciplined people are generally an exception but not the norm.
As for San Jose California. I left that area in 1980 and would NEVER want to go back there. I understand it took a HARD TURN to the left, and the price of housing there is RIDICULOUS. Seriously, Silly Valley companies do NOT need to hire there, unless their investors ALSO own property [and make money off of ridiculous housing and rent prices]. And considering how bums and hobos and other "human debris" are CRAPPING IN THE STREETS and LIVING IN TENTS ON THE SIDEWALKS, who'd WANT to live there?
In any case, nothing beats a good old fashioned gasoline burning car or motorcycle. Seriously! And last I checked, the rate at which they burst into flames and cook your crotch is VERY small...
There's a good argument for fluorine as well. After all, only a compound containing fluorine, O2F2, can be used to set water on fire, although cesium plus water equals explosion, so they can fight it out. Fluorine can also bond with noble gasses, though, which I think might give it the edge there. It is possible that francium would be the most reactive, but because it is so unstable and has a very short half life, we don't have any to test out. I'm going to suggest we eliminate it from discussion based on lack of fun explosion videos. By any metric, however, lithium doesn't come close.
What's with this growing trend of capitalising words that don't need capitalising (or italicising or given any specific emphasis)? Is it a Generation Z 2.0 thing that I've missed?
Coincidentally or not, everybody I know who writes in this style is a berk.
Get a ndfeb magnet and hit it with a grinder
When I was an active motorbike rider, there was a fashion amongst the kneedown sect to wear knee sliders with magnesium/titanium studs in them. Apparently, the sparks that came out when they slid across the tarmac was something to behold.
I was never in the kneedown community - I mostly concentrated on going round the corner as fast as possible and (most of the time) getting your knee down wasn't the quickest. I was in the KSB community though..
 This only works with normally-aspirated engines. You get up to a nice high speed and then (staying in gear) flick the engine kill-switch to kill the ignition. The bike carries on moving (but slowing down) and the engine keeps being turned by gearbox - thus sucking in unburnt fuel and then (since the ignition isn't on) pushing it out of the exhaust. After a second or so, you flick the kill-switch back off to re-enable the ignition. The engine bump-starts and then all that nice unburnt fuel in the exhaust and exhaust manifold gets ignited by the very hot gasses coming out of the cylinder. The unburnt fuel in the exhaust pipe makes a very nice loud bang.. Best done in tunnels or enclosed roads. Doing it may invalidate any warranty on your engine or exhaust pipe (exhaust pipes really are not designed to contain exploding fuel and more than one set of exhaust baffles have been destroyed using this method.) It also can scare the crap out of a car driver if you are alongside them when you restart the engine..
samsung doesn't make the batteries, they most likely buy them from a company in China, since making the batteries requires polluting the environment, and it's ok to do that in China because they don't care.
So batteries built anyplace ELSE in the world willl cost a LOT more, because you need to TAKE PRECAUTIONS to avoid polluting the environment [whch is reasonable, I say]. but competition being what it is, the lowest price:quality always gets the sales and the supplier contracts.
So there ya go. Now Sammy had some issues with PINCHING their batteries (causing failure) but that was a final assembly problem. The batteries themselves probably performed "as designed". Whatever THAT implies, yeah.
I would actually blame a couple of other things, though. DISCHARGING a LiPo battery too far is one of the most dangerous things you can do to it, resulting in gassing and swelling and other chemical nastiness that you don't want to go into. If the battery control on those bikes does NOT prevent this, and ALSO prevent too-rapid charge rates [especially on heavily depleted batteries], you'll get explosions and fires and other things. Yeah, been there, done that. Worked with LiPo a LOT.
* one time I accidentally shorted a LiPo by connecting to a board I'd hand-built but didn't see a short across the battery, accidental solder bridge, in the visual inspection. Within 10 seconds the battery looked like a balloon. I disconnected it and ran it under a faucet to rapid-cool it, then it suddenly shrank down all wrinkly looking. Was completely unchargeable though, totally ruined. At least it didn't go *boom*
Everybody who completed the testing course and returned the bikes on time said they worked perfectly!
On a more serious note, these will never work in SF. There's too much social acceptance for theft and vandalism, and the police department isn't interested unless it's rape or murder. Somebody will find a way to make the bikes burn.
If the picture is anything to go by, I'm going to venture a guess at overheating from excessive exposure to direct sunlight? black paint/colored material tends to absorb heat and doesn't live giving it up for a while.
And certainly vandalism would play a major factor- some people just don't want anyone to have anything nice.
I was looking at it and thinking that it looks like the bikes might be a good source of 18650 batteries (or more probably the slightly fatter 26650 batteries.
I am sure the hacker space users would welcome an abundance of them if the bikes are abandoned in the same way that the scooters were.
In my city, a local company (not Lyft) has littered the streets with similar bicycles. They aren't exploding or anything -- but they are a hazard, and it's getting worse, as people just leave these things anywhere they want when they're done with them. This is causing increasing problems for everybody -- pedestrians, cars, and even other bicycles (disclaimer: I ride a bicycle as my primary transportation).
I dearly wish that this program simply stopped. It's making my city worse. Failing that, I wish that the city would start levying large fines on people who leave these scattered around (it is littering, after all!) -- it wouldn't be hard to find out who paid for the rental, after all.
it wouldn't be hard to find out who paid for the rental, after all.
"Honest guv, I just picked it up off the street. Dunno who left it there before me, but my mate says he saw some kids break someone's bike lock off one the other day and start riding it around annoying people before they dumped it and ran off..."
Not even close.
Cupertino is the physical heart, Palo Alto the spiritual; San Jose isn't even an also-ran ... unless you listen to the marketing weenies trying to sell you on the place, that is. And we all know what you get if you listen to marketing —an overpriced, engineered to fail, pretty covering on a lump of crap.
I've lived in all of those places. You could NOT pay me enough money to live there again!
(In the 70's, it wasn't like it is today. It was actually ACCEPTABLE. This is because it was mostly ELECTRONICS and actual SILICON-related engineers, and military contracts, and cutting edge technology, not like the current "cloud" crowd dominating it today)
(NASA had a lot of presence there as well)
"I'm reminded of how utterly awful and depressing it is."
Things must have improved since last time I went there ... Well, went anywhere other than my parent's house, in Palo Alto, that is. And even then I only drive from 280/Page Mill down Arastradero and back. The only bits of Santa Clara County/The Peninsula that have any redeeming qualities are South of Pacifica and West of 280, and parts of Mt. Hamilton ... Awful, awful place, for the most part.
Those who own property tend to take care of it, particularly if they paid for it. Public property, rentals, ‘loaners’, etc. - not so much. That type property is often used and abused. One more reason why governments that allow private ownership of property usually do better than those which do not, and if you really want to see property poorly maintained, make it the responsibility of the government.
Indeed. Look at what your average hire care gets subjected to - bounding off the rev limiter in every gear, getting tyres to squeal on every corner, clutchless gear changes, ABS "testing" and regularly missed service schedules. *
* - Admittedly I did all of these in my younger days as a PFY. The missed service schedules were out of my hands, but all these things together did convince me never to buy an ex-hire car.
Get a decent car (i have Vauxhall) and you only need the clutch to pull away, it will happly change gear with no crunch or damage. Indeed IF you are a SKILLED driver you can change gear like this in any car - I regularly do clutchless changes in a 1959 Morris Minor, again without crunching.
As for squealing tyres and reving the balls off it I am afraid thats just the stupidity and ignorance of the average driver these days. 40mph on holiday camp sites, 50 in town centres where there are childrenand pedestrians on holiday at the seaside.
This year in Cornwall an arsehole broke his door mirror on my arm in such a place. Unfortunately he didnt stop or I would have broken the rest of his car on the rectums face.
" if you really want to see property poorly maintained, make it the responsibility of the government."
That's not been my experience. From everything that I've seen during my life, the government and private owners are about equally good at this."
I photograph homes for estate agents and every home that has been subsidized by the government is torn to bits. People (mostly) take care of things they own. If it belongs to or is paid for by somebody else, not so much.
"I photograph homes for estate agents and every home that has been subsidized by the government is torn to bits. People (mostly) take care of things they own. If it belongs to or is paid for by somebody else, not so much."
Is that because someone else is footing the bill or because the people being subsidized are of the type who wouldn't care even if they DID own it free and clear. I see plenty of free-and-clear houses and cars and such that have been pretty badly beat up. For them, as long as it's a roof over their head or it runs, they don't care.
And as I recall, SKIP had to suspend use of scooters in DC because of a battery fire.
My own city experimented with bicycles for a while, but the complaints of the car users (who thought that only cars should be left parked in the streets) and the destructive vandals (who thought only cars should be left undisturbed) combined to force their withdrawal.
This is the main reason why I got rid of my collection of assorted LiPo cells, with the advice to "Be darn careful"
My box of assorted 18650s are less bad, went through them and pruned out any with abnormal voltage or signs of distress.
Still on the hunt for an idiot proof holder that can safely disconnect any cells that start to misbehave. Sprung magnets maybe?
Incidentally the chargers sold for E-cig batteries seem to have a "recharge from zero" option.
I can only hope that the charger has temperature feedback!
Has anyone thought to check what sort of a discharge/recharge history the ones that exploded had?
And, with the proliferation of electric vehicles (EV) and charging stations around the countryside, with a corresponding increase in quick charges and frequent charge/discharge cycles, what does this mean for the probability of EV battery fires? Have there been any "long-term" studies done into this?
The EV DC fast chargers aren't all that bad with the very large EV battery packs. About as fast as they go now is twice the power that the pack is rated for but only initially when the pack is nearly empty. Some new cars due to be released are being touted as having super fast charging capability (300+kW). That would be 3x (or "3C" as many RC hobbyists call it) the kWh of the pack, more or less. A 50kW charger would be charging at 1/2C on a 100kWh pack which shouldn't stress it at all.
EV's have a lot more battery management going on than the bikes likely do. I wouldn't expect balancing circuits on the bike's battery pack.
If they don't have a balancing circuit it is highly likely they will explode. I would guess that they do because it would be crazy not to. This assumes that they are not lithium iron phosphate batteries but even there it would be a bad idea.
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