Wednesday, August 5, 2015

The Hoverboard Dream Is Real

AFTER A MONTH of teasers and speculation, Lexus has finally shown off its real, live, working hoverboard. It may not beBack to the Future, but it’s still a mighty satisfying ride.





As it turns out, the future is hard; professional skateboarder Ross McGouran has plenty of spills on the way to mastering even basic moves. That’s perhaps not surprising, given that riding the Lexus hoverboard is basically like straddling a maglev train. As we explained in June, the Lexus hoverboard relies on superconductors and magnets, which work against gravity to lift board and rider above the ground. That cool-looking steam coming off of the sides isn’t decorative; it’s liquid nitrogen, cooling the superconductors to -321 degrees Fahrenheit, the temperature at which they become superconducting.

The steam’s not the only thing that may not be quite what it appears. The biggest disappointment for hoverboard enthusiasts is that course on which McGouran hover-shreds is actually has metal underneath it; on the surfaces that comprise the vast majority of our infrastructure, the hoverboard would simply be a heavy, immobile board. In fact, aside from its healthy dose of style, the Lexus hoverboard isn’t much different from a dozen lab demonstrations that have taken place over the last few decades.




A highly constrained, not quite original hoverboard is still a hoverboard, though. And this one even comes with a bonus; Lexus put together a mini-doc about the process that gives a refreshingly clear-eyed look at the physics behind the fun.

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