Look! It looks like the real deal! This is the latest claim by a company called ArxPax, but sometimes refer themselves as Hendo. The company said that their board will carry a human over any conductor that is not ferromagnetic – that is not containing iron, nickel or cobalt.
ArxPax say that the hoverboard will be just the beginning, a way of mobilizing the capacity of technology that will eventually embrace flying cars and earthquake-proof buildings. They’ve certainly convinced some people, with their Kickstarter campaign more than half-funded.
To be more convinced, please click the link to see the video.
If you read the description on the kickstarter page, it says:
“The magic behind the hoverboard lies in its four disc-shaped hover engines. These create a special magnetic field which literally pushes against itself, generating the lift which levitates our board off the ground.”
The demonstration hoverboard looks a lot chunkier than the fictional versions that inspired it, and still lacks the range.
Producing a hoverboard that would work over all (solid) surfaces and fly meters off the ground would take a technological breakthrough far beyond anything we are likely to manage soon. More realistic would be a sort of solo version of a maglev train. However, the excitement of riding up and down the same track would probably pale quickly.
In theory the idea is possible. Under Lenz’s Law, a changing electric current will generate a counterbalancing current in nearby conducting materials, and each will produce a magnetic field that will repel the other. It’s hard to make something relying on magnetic fields stable, but it does seem ArxPax have gone a long way in that direction.
The big challenge, however, is creating something that can produce enough power to support a human, and do it for long enough on small batteries to give a worthwhile experience. Battery technology is improving to meet the needs of electric cars, but ArxPax don’t seem to be offering a lot of evidence that they’ve got what it takes to turn their dream, and Kickstarter supporters’ money, into a reality that lasts more than a few minutes.
Even if the power issue can be resolved, don’t expect a lot of the stunts Michael J. Fox pulled off in the film – if there were criminal penalties for breaking the laws of physics, the filmmakers would be in more trouble than their villainous gang.
ABCom Interns, LNU