How Lexus’ made its hoverboard fly with a metal skatepark track
Hell Yes, Lexus Made a Hoverboard.
Lexus has built a hoverboard, straight out of “Back to the Future.” The Lexus Hoverboard project began 18 months ago through a collaboration with a team of scientists from IFW Dresden and evico GmbH, who specialize in magnetic levitation technology. Mastering a hoverboard apparently requires even more skill, based on the difficulty veteran skateboard professional Ross McGouran had staying aboard a new gravity-defying vehicle from Lexus.
Following extensive testing with pro skateboarder and hoverboard test rider Ross McGouran, in Dresden, Germany, the team were determined to push the hoverboard to its limits and conduct further tests within dynamic surroundings. “I’ve spent 20 years skateboarding, but without friction it feels like I’ve had to learn a whole new skill, particularly in the stance and balance in order to ride the hoverboard. Back to the Future Part II’s depiction of a hovering skateboard that – get this – the 1989 film showed existing in 2015 (aka “the future”) has been created by Lexus.
The luxury automotive company yesterday completed a full and final reveal of its Slide hoverboard project, concluding a successful testing phase that took place at a custom-crafted skate park in Spain. And then take a running leap onto it — just as you would with your beloved skateboard — only to have it slide out underneath you, leaving you flat on your rear. As Wired points out, however, it’s not a true hoverboard in the sense of a board that hovers over any given surface: the entire contraption requires a magnetic rail for the hoverboard, powered by superconductors cooled to -321 degrees Fahrenheit, to ride along. His ride, which included a jump over a Lexus sedan, marked the full unveiling of the Slide, which Lexus revealed in June and further teased in a video last week.
And despite a few (okay, a bunch) of falls, McGouran finally got the hang of the hoverboard and began pulling off the kind of tricks that only pro skateboarders and Marty McFly can do, like jumping over cars, riding on water and other insane maneuvers. “The feeling of literally no friction and floating on air is hard to describe,” says McGouran. “It’s kind of like a science in yourself. The park where the video was filmed actually conceals several such rails under its surface, meaning that the hoverboard is actually more like an X-Games version of the maglev than it is Marty McFly’s hoverboard. Magnetic track laid below the surface work with magnets and liquid nitrogen-cooled superconductors in the board to allow the rider to cruise above the surface and even skim across water. It starts to become less scary, less daunting, more fun.” To create the SLIDE as it’s called (perhaps “hoverboard” is copyrighted?), Lexus used “an insulated core, containing HTSLs (high temperature superconducting blocks). So it might strike some as a surprise that Toyota Motor’s luxury car brand turned to the land of BMW and Mercedes when it wanted to create a hoverboard.
Then again, Marty McFly said it himself: “Yeah, well, history is gonna change.” Before we get to that, here’s a brief description how it works: Lexus’s hoverboard uses magnetic levitation, or maglev, to achieve frictionless movement. When the board is cooled to its operating temperature the track’s magnetic flux lines are ‘pinned’ into place, maintaining the hover height of the board.” Sounds a little too Dr. Emmett “Doc” Brown for us to understand, but one thing is important to note: The board can only float over magnets, meaning Lexus had to outfit an entire skatepark with, well, a whole lot of magnets underneath. The firm would not even venture a guess as to how much the hoverboard would cost. “You couldn’t actually even put a figure on it,” said Ms Yolande Waldock, who leads the global brand team for Lexus International. “It’s impossible to put a figure on it.” Agencies
To subscribe to the Philippine Daily Inquirer newspaper in the Philippines, call +63 2 896-6000 for Metro Manila and Metro Cebu or email your subscription request here. If you’ve ever tried to stand on a board, or something on water without any momentum, that’s what this kind of feels like.” Even though Lexus and Evico were able to pull off the project, don’t expect to see a hoverboard fly past while you’re walking down the street next year. The competition for attention has never been stiffer: Carmakers are duking it out with technology giants that aspire to build self-driving vehicles, and at least one chief executive officer moonlights as the head of a rocket company.
If the final video is to be remembered as fondly as watching Doc and Marty send their DeLorean back in time, its last scene will probably end up the clincher. “To see the hoverboard leave a ramp — and then join it again on the other side, after it’s jumped a Lexus vehicle — is amazing,” Waldock says.
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