Ever since Back to the Future Part II came out in 1989 (and surely long before it) people have been obsessed with the idea of the hoverboard. And since the predictive date in the movie of October 21, 2015 just passed, it’s timely that we’re seeing their reality unfold. After all, we all wanted to be just like Marty McFly, channeling through city streets without touching the ground.
While there are some innovations that have brought us closer to the concept of a hoverboard (including the aptly named Hoverboard), no product has quite yet lived up to what we all saw and fell in love with when Michael J. Fox first strapped on that futuristic machine.
But that’s what Hollywood tends to do to us: get us caught up in a world of make-believe, where it’s perfectly logical to essentially float in air while traveling at high speeds.
Reality is, well, a bit different. Take, for example, the Guinness World Record for furthest recorded flight made on a hoverboard contraption: it was set by Canadian inventor Catalina Alexandru Duru, who rose 16 feet in the air and flew forward all of 905 feet and 2 inches (more than five times the distance he needed to break the previous record).
So while 905 feet isn’t all that much, the fact that Duru smashed the previous record hints at what is possible thanks to the ingenuity of creative minds. And some fresh products in the pipeline suggest that traveling back to the future – while comfortably floating on air – may not be as impossible as we once thought.
The ArcaBoard machine is lifted by 36 high-powered electric ducted fans – meaning that yes, you will actually float – and offers a whopping 272 horsepower performance. ArcaBoard also features a built-in stabilization unit, so you don’t feel like you’re sailing through the seven seas while you float down the road. Drivers (or perhaps riders?) will use their smartphones to control and navigate the vehicle; however, for folks who want a more intense experience, they can turn off the stabilization system and steer the ArcaBoard with their body (like a Segway).
The ArcaBoard won’t come cheap – it has a price tag of $14,900 – but that’s in line with other products similar to it.
Take, for example, the Hendo Hoverboard. While the ArcaBoard is a much wider contraption, Hendo Hoverboards are shaped like a skateboard, meaning it’s very close in appearance to Marty McFly’s hoverboard in Back to the Future Part II.
Hendo Hoverboards cost $10,000 to preorder and come with some caveats, such as:
Clearly these shortcomings (and the price tag on any potential hoverboard product) make it seem like you’d have to be well off, or a full-fledged adult, to get to play like a kid and float on air. But the technology that’s been created to power these types of boards is revolutionary and will surely help pave the way for future (and more affordable) innovations.
In fact, Hendo is planning to use some of the $450,000 raised on Kickstarter to develop magnetic hovering technology that will stabilize buildings during earthquakes.
We may not be at the level of Marty McFly quite yet, but that’s not for a lack of trying or interest. Who knows what’s in store for the future of transportation. Chances are, roads might not be required.