We’re living in 2015, the year in which Back to the Future’s time-travelling Marty McFly purportedly finds us getting about on hoverboards and flying cars. And guess what? The movie-makers weren’t far off base.
Lexus caused some serious buzz earlier in the year when it teased visuals of its gorgeous-looking ‘Slide’ hoverboard, part of the automaker’s ‘Amazing in Motion’ series of high-tech research concepts.
At the time, details were sparse on how the hoverboard could actually levitate. Was it real? How did it work? Lexus wasn’t giving much away, only indicating that the Slide was a real, rideable hoverboard that used magnetic levitation to achieve frictionless movement, with liquid-nitrogen-cooled superconductors giving the board its misty, futuristic appearance.
Now the company has provided another tantalising glimpse of the Slide in motion, bringing on board British professional skateboarder Ross McGouran as its official ‘hoverboard test rider’ to help pique our interest. Not that it really needs any piquing at this point. Just seeing this thing smoothly levitate across the pavement is enough to keep our eyes glued to the screen.
Lexus isn’t shedding any further light on the Slide’s technical operation, but the language the company uses suggests it's the same kind of maglev-style lifting as the Hendo hoverboard that caused a splash last year.
This means it would only levitate above certain kinds of metallic, magnetic materials. So, despite the implied suggestion in Lexus’s promotional video, it won’t work on the concrete pools and ramps at your local skate park, but specially designed paths or skating facilities would enable the Slide to lift off the ground.
As for what it’s like to ride? McGouran says skaters have another thing coming, as the sensation of an entirely frictionless ride bears little relation to the grinding and carving feedback provided by four wheels and a timber plank.
“It literally feels like I’m starting all over again from the beginning. It’s never been done before,” he says in the video. “There’s no friction underneath you at all. And then I’m forgetting that what I’m actually doing… which actually is floating on air.”