There have been 2 successful hover board proof-of-concept trials before 21 October 2015. This is the date to which characters in ‘Back to the Future II’ jumped forward to find wheeled skateboards replaced by hovering varieties. Current wheel-less experiments focus on levitation through magnetism, similar to the approach used in magnetic levitating trains.
Toyota’s Lexus arm partnered with German Evico of the Leibniz-Institute for Solid State and Materials Research to go with superconductors on their Lexus Slide. A pair of on-board magnets are cooled by -197°C liquid nitrogen which means the magnetic field is effectively ‘frozen’. This allows the board to hover at a set height above a track with permanent magnets, just as a magnetic levitating train follows a magnetic track.
Arx Pax CEO Greg Henderson raised $500,000 through Kickstarter to develop his proprietary Magnetic Field Architecture, enough for a trial of the Hendo Hover late last year. His overriding interest is in a method to levitate buildings as a way of preserving structures in the event of disasters such as earthquake or floods. Other applications may include hover pallets to replace forklifts, or hover robots to undertake dangerous or arduous tasks. To get lift, the Hendo Hover has two downward facing hover engines. These create primary and secondary magnetic fields which repel each other. This causes the lift and so the device does not need a magnetic floor underneath.
The hover boards do not perform as regular skateboards due to a lack of friction. A ride can be a bit like trying to dance on slippery ice. Also the rides are currently quite short. For the Hendo board this is due to the short engine battery life. The -197°C liquid nitrogen on the Lexus Slide warms quickly resulting in loss of levity. So there is a long way to go before such hover boards will be commercial realities. However there is perhaps the potential for experiences in custom built hover board parks, such as the one pictured here constructed in Barcelona for the recent Lexus Slide trials.
Arx Pax are continuing to actively develop the Hendo board, with mark 2 set to be unveiled – you guessed it – on 21 October 2015.