The Lexus hoverboard video was released two days ago. It begins with a shot of a person on a traditional skateboard, then the rider stops and walks toward the camera. The next image the viewer sees is a skateboard-like object hovering just above ground. It is releasing puffs of smoke. The words, “It [is] just a matter of figuring out how, appear above the board. Below the shot is the chief engineer’s name, Haruhiko Tanahashi. The Lexus hoverboard is Toyota’s reach at immortality. Toyota’s affiliate is working on a board that many other companies, including the United States Army want to create.
According to an Atlantic article, the United States Army and Navy have been working on hovering devices since the early 1950’s. In a 1955 photo and drawing of the military’s hoverboard, the machine is large, round and has a motor on it. The operator stands on a small platform within a cage-like railing. In the video, the operator operates the device while it lifts several feet off the ground. The actual name of the device is called the Hiller Flying Machine. In PC Magazine, from June 2015, there is an article talking about the possibility of our troops riding a Hoverbike. It is described as similar to a fictional Star Wars speeder bike. The speeder bike is an “open-air repulsorlift vehicle. Survice Engineering Company, a U.S. based company, whose customers include, the Department of Defense and Homeland Security and Malloy Aeronautics, a United Kingdom (U.K.) company are developing the Hoverbike. The prototype weighs approximately 600 pounds and its top reported speed is 92 miles per hours.
Other companies have been working on hoverboard designs. The technology for each of these requires the use of magnets and a metal area to ride upon. Lexus has changed the playing field; a little. In the description on the official website, their hoverboard “uses magnetic levitation” and “liquid nitrogen cooled superconductors and permanent magnets combine” in order to make the impossible possible. It is possible the Lexus hoverboard is Toyota’s reach for Immortality.
This is nothing new for this company. Technological innovations that move are found on their website. Videos entitled, Strobe, Swarm, and Steps show different ways Lexus is creating technology that moves. Strobe is about an illumination project that is demonstrated using a “man’s journey across a city at night”. Swarm, however, is about little helicopters with four propellers on the underside, called, quadrotors. The video for Steps shows a manually controlled lit robot, described as “larger than life”.
“Investing in good design has been a core principle for Lexus since 2012,” reads the company’s website. Beyond the innovations in automobile technology, the company has also launched programs such as the Lexus Design Award. This is an international competition for young creators. The competitors will have their creations shown at the Milan Design Week. There is also “a cutting-edge café, shop and gallery space in the heart of Tokyo.”
Google has pages of articles on hoverboard development. Many have titles which indicate that hoverboards are not the same as the hoverboards seen in the 1985 Robert Zemeckis Film Series Back to The Future. The second film was set in 2015 and the hoverboards traveled easily above ground with the movements of the rider guiding its direction. The Hendo hoverboard was invented by Greg Henderson. It is just one of the things Henderson hovers on his copper playground. The technology using magnets to hover is described by Henderson is based on the Lenz’s Law of electromagnetism. This physics law is named after Heinrich Lenz. As Henderson explains, “A magnet has an electromagnetic field. It is equal in all areas. It has a north and a south pole. What if you were able to take that magnet, and organize the magnetic field so that it was only on one side? And then you combine that with other magnetic fields in a way that amplifies and focuses their strength? That’s magnetic field architecture.”
With Lenz’s Law and the technology changes made by Lexus, such a the “liquid nitrogen cooled superconductors and permanent magnets” it is possible to see the future of hoverboards come into fruition. It is possible that the Lexus hoverboard is Toyota’s reach for immortality. Skateboard riders will then be able to hover.
By Cathy Milne
Lexus-int.com – Amazing Slide in Motion
Lexas-int.com – More Amazing In Motion Projects
P.C. Magazine – Will U.S. Soldiers Soon Get Hoverbikes?
The Verge – I Rode a Hoverboard Designed to Save Buildings From Earthquakes and Floods
Photo courtesy of Mark Sebastion’s Flickr page – Creative Commons
Photo courtesy of Stephane Galley’s Flickr page – Creative Commons