Talk about a tease!? How excited can geeks like me get when a working hoverboard gets plastered across a bunch of websites? Alas, there’s always a bunch of catches, least of all the exorbitant price tag.
A California startup just built a real, working hoverboard. Arx Pax is attempting to crowdfund the Hendo Hoverboard as a proof of concept for its hover engine technology — it’s not quite the floating skateboard Marty McFly rode through Hill Valley (and the Wild West), but it’s an obvious precursor to the imagined ridable: a self-powered, levitating platform with enough power to lift a fully grown adult.
Whether it’s the current 300-lb rated one or future 500-lb ones, you’ll need to hover over a very specific kind of surface to get it to hold anything: The Hendo uses the same kind of electromagnetic field technology that floats MagLev trains — meaning it will only levitate over non-ferrous metals like copper or aluminum. WTF!?
So what gives, you ask? Henderson didn’t necessarily set out to reinvent transportation. The Hendo engine’s original inspiration came from architecture. “It came from the idea of hovering a building out of harm’s way,” he says. “If you can levitate a train that weighs 50,000 kilograms, why not a house?” After some prodding, he clarifies the idea as a sort of emergency lifting system that could theoretically raise a building off of its foundation during an earthquake, essentially rendering the natural disaster’s tremors harmless. The idea sounds as fictional as, well, a hoverboard — but he already built one of those. Henderson says that floating a building is a long-term goal. Right now, the technology is in its early stages, and he’s just trying to get it in the hands of engineers with big ideas. I’d rather just have a working hoverboard,but whatev.