All summer long, Lexus has been teasing the Internet with the release of a real, functional hoverboard a la Back To The Future. A few mad scientists have created functional hoverboards before, but Lexus’s marketing stunt is especially serendipitous considering that 2015 is the year Marty McFly fast-forwarded to in Back To The Future II.
Today, Lexus finally unveiled their hoverboard with a video from a skatepark in Barcelona. The hoverboard floats through the air using a scientific principle known as superconducting magnetic levitation, which involves cooling expensive magnets with liquid nitrogen. There are also magnets in the skatepark track, which is how they filmed the super rad video above. Here’s is a breakdown from Sam Sheffer at The Verge, who got a chance to ride one:
The hoverboard is packed with ceramic tiles (the superconductors, composed of yttrium, barium, copper, and oxygen), which are cooled down to around -180 degrees Celsius using liquid nitrogen. In order to achieve levitation, the board must be resting on a set of magnets (i.e. the track), and planks of wood are placed under the board to determine its levitation height (the more wood placed, the higher it’ll hover — with a maximum of 4cm). Once the board reaches the critical temperature, the superconductors interact with the magnets in such a way that they get “trapped” within the magnetic field (known as flux pinning in the science world) and you’ve got yourself a hoverboard of sorts.
It sorta words, though it looks very, very hard to actually ride despite the effortlessness of the video above. Regardless…. HOW FREAKIN’ COOL.
Jalopnik — which got to ride the Lexus hoverboard at its launch in Barcelona (lucky bastards!) — explains some the science that goes into making a hoverboard hover:
And The Verge has some insight on why it’s still pretty wonky, despite how effortless the commercial above is:
It might not be perfect and it might be a highly orchestrated, expensive marketing stunt, but it’s a step in the right direction. Someday…