Lexus went viral not long ago after releasing its Slide mini-movie series where professional skateboarder Ross McGouran went “back to the future” in Marty McFly style and played with a real, working hoverboard.
Yes, the “skateboard” almost magically hovers an inch or three above the ground. And while McGouran is a professional in terms of skating, leaping into the future on aboard that has no friction underneath turned him into a beginner all over again. But first thing first – the Lexus hoverboard works thanks to magnetic levitation, or maglev and can achieve frictionless movement. Liquid nitrogen-cooled superconductors and a magnetic surface make a science fiction move – they repel gravity. Maglev itself isn’t a new technology and even hoverboards using it have been developed before. The first Slide video trailer went viral as the world gained a hoverboard that fit its perception – stylish, slender and reminiscent of Japanese luxury cars with spindle grilles and bamboo.
The final video also showed the inherent disadvantages – first off, how intricate riding it is. “A skateboard has got resistance. Even with a surfboard, you’ve got the resistance of water,” says David Nordstrom, a general manager at Lexus International in Tokyo. “This is essentially floating on air. 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.” Additionally, Lexus and its German engineering partner, Evico, had to convert a skate park in Barcelona because their hoverboard needs a magnetic metal track. Normal concrete pavements will be useless and the companies had to lay down hundreds of small magnets.