Marty’s Hover Board is Finally Here!
Back to the Future fans will know that on 21 October 2015 we will finally be at the point in time Marty McFly travelled to in the 1980s movie franchises’s second film.
And while Back to the Future II correctly anticipated technological advances such as the increased use of robot technology and biometrics, we saw in the new year disappointed that we are not all getting about in flying cars and on hover boards.
But it seems we spoke too soon…with October’s ‘Back to the Future Day’ not quite upon us, Japanese car manufacturers Lexus has revealed their hoverboard is indeed a reality. As the doc would say “Great Scott!”
What is it?
The Lexus Slide is a bamboo and carbon fibre skateboard which levitates an inch or two off the ground, giving off wisps of what looks like smoke (but is actually liquid nitrogen).
Unlike the recent online hoverboard hoax, videos released by Lexus and reviewers given access reveal it really does exist.
According to Lexus Chief Engineer Haruhiko, “There is no such thing as impossible, it’s just a matter of figuring out how”.
As a car manufacturer, Lexus may not seem like an obvious choice to emerge triumphant in the race to deliver a working overboard, but they beg to differ.
“At Lexus, we constantly challenge ourselves and our partners to push the boundaries of what is possible,” said Mark Templin, executive vice president, Lexus International. “That determination, combined with our passion and expertise for design and innovation, is what led us to take on the Hoverboard project. It’s the perfect example of the amazing things that can be achieved when you combine technology, design and imagination.”
How does it work?
While we suspect you’d need a physics degree to fully understand what’s going on here, in short this works through superconductors and magnets, which combine to repel the force of gravity and lift the board and its rider off the ground.
To go into more detail, an insulated core, contains high temperature superconducting blocks, housed in reservoirs of liquid nitrogen cool that cool them to the point at which they are superconductive – a very chilly -197°C. In the testing and videos, Lexus then place the board above a track containing permanent magnets and once the board cools to its operating temperature the tracks magnetic flux lines are ‘pinned’ into place, maintaining the hover height of the board.
What does it do?
Used on the custom made, magnetic park created by Lexus, pro skater Ross McGouran is able to nip about on it at quite some speed, even jumping between tracks.
But of course, as it’s powered by the superconductors and magnets which lead it round the planned track, it doesn’t need a rider, which scientists have demonstrated by setting it off on its own. Something which looks very cool in the videos (but doesn’t strictly have a purpose from what we can tell).
When can we get one?!
Sadly it seems we won’t be seeing this hoverboard on the market anytime soon.
Aside from the fact that they would only be able to be used on specially designed parks filled with magnets, reports suggest the creation of the Slide is mainly about promoting the Lexus brand philosophy of “making the impossible possible”. It’s thought it may ultimately just form part of the marketing campaign for one of their new cars. Sob.
But while we may not be seeing the hoverboards all over the place any time soon, experts say the technological advances made during its production may still be of use elsewhere, so it remains a fabulous invention, even though it may be one we can’t get our hands on.
We’d better check how those flying cars are coming along…