In June, Lexus unveiled its hoverboards, a physical implementation of a flying board from science fiction movies and games. Almost immediately, the journalists found out the main thing: in order to levitate above the ground, the hoverboard needs special conditions – a metal surface laid under the surface of the skatepark (there are powerful magnets in the board itself). While there is only one such skatepark, it was built specifically for testing new items in Barcelona.
On August 4, Lexus released more details to the media and released a three-minute video showing people riding and falling off the hoverboard. As you can see from the demo, the board can ride not only over the ground, but also over water (unlike the original hoverboards shown in the movie Back to the Future 2).
Lexus didn’t create the hoverboard alone: the automaker was assisted by the IFW Institute in Dresden and its subsidiary evico, which specializes in magnetic levitation technology and the development of industrial magnetic bearings. The board contains superconductors, enclosed in special cryochambers with temperatures below -197 degrees Celsius, which interact with the canvas and allow it to levitate.
There is only one instance of the hoverboard so far. It is tested by professional skateboarder Ross McGuran. The athlete admits that hoverboarding is much more difficult than skating. Even him.
Cooling gas is consumed in the hoverboard, like a battery in a smartphone: according to the author who tested the board, Sam Schaeffer, it had to be refilled into the tanks every 20 minutes, and the “refueling” itself also took 10-15 minutes.
A hoverboard is very different from a skateboard in terms of riding: it is unstable, it is impossible (or at least very difficult) to turn on it, and it is only 4 centimeters from the ground. Although professional skater Ross McGuran has even demonstrated jumping over a ramp span, Schaeffer, himself an experienced skater, was unable to travel further than a few meters to avoid hitting the bottom of the park surface.
Lexus does not plan to launch mass production of the hoverboard: it exists in a single copy. In addition, Lexus did not create it on its own, but with the help of researchers from the IFW Institute in Dresden and its subsidiary company evico, specializing in magnetic levitation technologies.
According to Schaeffer, all the company has done is get everyone’s attention to the hoverboards. Nevertheless, the world has not yet come very close to the technologies described in the movie “Back to the Future”, and until the day in the future , to which his characters were sent, there are less than three months left.
Riding a hoverboard or segways are very difficult. In addition, it must be constantly cooled with liquid nitrogen. It was so hot in Spain that day that we could only ride the hoverboard for 10-15 minutes before refueling it again – it took another 10-15 minutes. In this regard, I would like to ask a question: why does this thing even exist?
The Lexus Hoverboard is not a real product, it is just a special effect created to advertise cars. This is a series of commercials featuring bright lights, mechanical dolls, glowing costumes and rapper will.i.am. The difference is that you never want to have a giant “Guitar Hero” level for your car, but you still want to have a hoverboard. Fortunately, there are other companies like Hendo that are actually working on levitation technology with ambitions that go beyond marketing alone.