Watch out Biff – Marty McFly’s Hoverboard Now Exists!
In a twist of fiction meeting reality, the hoverboard featured from Back to the Future II is one step closer to existing. The company that produced this board, Hendo Hover, has launched a kickstarter to drum up funds to continue production of what they say is the first successful attempt at a hover board. Popular Trends (1) initially covered the kickstarter launch with bated anticipation to see how this attractive looking prototype can get onto the market.
While this prototype can successfully levitate over a ferromagnetic surface, it still has some very real limitations. Engineers have designed a custom electromagnetic engine array which effectively keeps the board off the ground through magnetic resistance. As highlighted in a recent article by the Daily Mail (2), production designers are still trying to hurdle over the obstacle of taking this board from its custom skate rink to the sidewalk.
Still, such achievements mark a heightened improvement over previous attempts. While certainly getting points for creativity, the hover board produced by science students at Paris Diderot University failed to prove extremely portable. Their version required a custom magnetic track and the hyper-cooling of neodymium magnets. While impressive to see in their video(3), it still highlights the shortcomings of mastering pure magnetism to fuel our science fiction fantasies.
The big difference with Hendo’s design is the incorporation of electromagnets versus traditional magnets. With a battery fuel cell, each of the four electromagnetic arrays is powered to just the point where they repel from their metallic rink. This allows the pilot to have some control over steering and direction. Just this step, alone, shows great promise for Hendo’s design.
As the properties of electromagnets are further studied for this purpose, we could see future designs from Hendo Hover which incorporate lessons from this hoverboard into other vehicles we can use for transportation. In the meantime, check out their kickstarter page to get a look at what they have in store.