Ever since Back to the Future, the world has been waiting for hoverboards and flying cars. If Marty McFly can have them, then so should we. Lexus agrees and they’ve finally taken the wraps off their hoverboard.
They gave us our first glimpse of this wonder back in June. The teaser showed what appeared to be a hoverboard floating above a sidewalk. It looked cool, but it didn’t actually move so there was no way to know how well it worked, if at all.
The guys over at Jalopnik had the chance to check it out firsthand and, yes, it works. They took a ride on the Lexus hoverboard in Barcelona, Spain and there’s video proof with people floating along and falling off of this wondrous new toy.
The technology behind the hoverboard isn’t particularly groundbreaking. It’s more the application that makes this interesting. It floats through the use of liquid nitrogen-cooled superconductors and magnets. This lifts the hoverboard off the ground a few inches so that it hovers.
The operative word here is hover, not fly, so it won’t be soaring over anyone’s head. It rests about 3 to 4 inches above the ground and then sits even lower with the weight of a person on its back. This gives it ground clearance of as little as 1 inch, depending on the rider.
A look at all the details shows this is far from being something you’ll be picking up at your local Lexus dealer anytime soon. It requires a magnetic rail beneath the hoverboard that uses north and south poles to create a field. The superconductors in the board use this field to float.
Lexus built a special skateboard park specifically to show off their hoverboard, so the rails are mostly hidden, but you can see one clearly when the board goes over the water. It also needs a liquid nitrogen refill every ten minutes so it’s not the most practical means of transportation on the planet.
Sure, that’s disappointing if you had visions of soaring through the center of town like Marty McFly, but you should still be excited. Think of this as baby steps. The world didn’t get cars with hundreds of horsepower overnight. We didn’t get jets overnight either. The hoverboard is an early application of technology that could fundamentally change how cars work.
It won’t happen today and it might not happen tomorrow, but the Lexus hoverboard proves that it is a real possibility in the future.