Lexus just unveiled what is by all appearances a working hoverboard. This concept was teased about way back in June. Every story about it comes with an obligatory reference to Back To The Future Part II, that 1989 film set in the distant and far-off future of 2015, which featured an iconic hoverboard chase scene. Here’s that hoverboard in action:
Later in the video, which is best thought of as a weird, high-concept advertisement, the hoverboard literally flies over a Lexus. Check that out:
So how does the hoverboard even work? Hoverboards have been faked before, but what Lexus is doing isn’t exactly a lie or a hoax. They made a real, working hoverboard, and that’s what’s on display here. It’s just an incomplete truth. Lexus also made a skatepark with magnetic rails buried underneath, which makes the whole thing possible. The mechanism is based on the concept that when magnets have opposite poles, they repel each other and force a space between them.
To their credit, in the “making of” video about the hoverboard, Lexus shows the magnetic rail, and the 403-day-long design process it took to make the board and the park work. This wasn’t new science: as Brian Fung at the Washington Post notes, ” this technology has actually been around for years. It’s what powers maglev trains. Lexus just shrunk it down to the size of a skateboard and buried the rail.”
There is art in hiding that all behind the curtain. Watch the “making of” video, featuring hoverboard pilot and pro skateboarder Ross McGouran, below: