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Transportation Technology

Functioning Hoverboard Unveiled (cnn.com) 55

An anonymous reader writes: Last year, a company called Arx Pax set up a Kickstarter campaign to develop a functioning hoverboard. Now, the company has demonstrated an updated version of the device, which is fully capable of hovering over a surface made out of conductive metal (video on YouTube). CEO Greg Henderson said, "The hover engine creates a primary magnetic field which is then put over a candidate surface like aluminum or copper. The hover engine then creates swirls of electricity and those create a secondary magnetic field, which propels the firsts." The device is expensive; Arx Pax is delivering a handful of units to Kickstarter backers who contributed $10,000. It's out of the reach of typical consumers, but it does seem to work. Plus, the company is sharing their magnetic field technology with teams taking part in the competition to build pods for a prototype of Elon Musk's Hyperloop vacuum tube transportation system.
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Functioning Hoverboard Unveiled

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  • It's just maglev. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by meerling ( 1487879 ) on Sunday October 25, 2015 @12:50PM (#50798051)
    We've been doing maglev for quite a while now, though few people tried to ride them like a skateboard before. I still haven't seen anything they've done new other than the hype. Now when they don't need a special surface to function, then they can call it a hoverboard.
    • Re:It's just maglev. (Score:4, Interesting)

      by TeknoHog ( 164938 ) on Sunday October 25, 2015 @12:52PM (#50798061) Homepage Journal
      This. For surface independence, try developing plasma levitation [iki.fi] instead.
      • Re:It's just maglev. (Score:4, Informative)

        by DrTJ ( 4014489 ) on Sunday October 25, 2015 @01:15PM (#50798137)

        All other problems aside, that hovercraft would spew out enormous amounts of poisonous gas.

        The ionized oxygen atoms would recombine into O2 and O3 and various NOx molecules. NOx isn't good for you, but ozone (O3) is directly poisonous. It's as bad as (or even worse than) HCN - hydrogen cyanide. LD50 is about 22 ppm (for mice).

        I wouldn't want one.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      indeed it seems to me, it is just modified maglev technology.
      It is not hoverboard, even close. May be it would be usable if we had sidewalks from iron...

      • by Rei ( 128717 )

        Doesn't even seem that well designed. If you want something that even approaches the dexterity a person gets on a skateboard you can't just drift like a hovercraft. If a person leans to the side it should resist drifting to the opposite side (as if wheels were gripping in). Otherwise it's like trying to balance on a tightrope. Also, the hovering elements should be independently pivoted - otherwise, with such a low clearance, it's going to be stuck to perfectly flat surfaces, limiting the potential fun (ove

        • Hmm, now that got me wondering... I almost wonder if it would be possible to design a system to hover off of the rebar embedded in concrete - sidewalks, streets, interior spaces, etc.

          Sidewalks and streets don't contain rebar. They use something called "concrete underlayment" which is 10-12 gauge galvanized steel wire mesh with a 6" square pattern... if anything.

          • by Rei ( 128717 )

            Okay, so what's the name of the grid (square or rectangular) of steel bar-like things that I continually see whenever they're redoing the roads and sidewalks downtown if not "rebar"? Do you call that "mesh"?

            Regardless, conductive and ferromagnetic. Just a much smaller target than a continuous plate.

            • Okay, so what's the name of the grid (square or rectangular) of steel bar-like things that I continually see whenever they're redoing the roads and sidewalks downtown if not "rebar"? Do you call that "mesh"?

              Tunnel roofs have rebar, do you live someplace with subways? Or accessways for pipes and conduit?

              • by Rei ( 128717 )

                Nope, Reykjavík.

                Here's what it looks like [wikimedia.org]. Or this [lindsborgcity.org] or this [empireconstructionny.com]. Roads like this [google.com].

                • Here's what it looks like. Or this or this. Roads like this.

                  Wow, I guess now I know why that stuff crumbles in the USA.

                • The problem is that Asphalt, and Concrete are made of materials that currently have no known mathematics to support levitation, or some type of magnetic/electrical type of repulsion. What is the difference between these two products and iron, copper, and aluminum?
                  • The problem is that Asphalt, and Concrete are made of materials that currently have no known mathematics

                    Clearly all the resources were spent testing, not teaching...

                • "Nope, Reykjavík."

                  From the country that wouldn't submit to the Banksters and threw them all in jail for fraud.

                  Cheers, mate!
                • your first and last pics... they are using re-bar... the second and third pics, are the thin ( 4 inches thick, or is supporting a lot of weight, or in the case of the first pic, providing support over a pipe or other such that you want to be protected, you'll use re-bar. thickness dependent on the use case. all other cases for sidewalks, (and even most concrete driveways in the U.S.) is to just use the mesh. -- ex-laborer who did a lot of commercial concrete work while going through college.
            • The problem is that you would need an order of magnitude or more power to get enough force at that distance.

            • I have heard it called 're-mesh' [homedepot.com].

          • by AK Marc ( 707885 )
            Reinforcing metal inside concrete for strength is "rebar". The concrete underlayment is a form of reinforcing metal, thus is rebar. At least by every definition I and Wikipedia have seen for rebar.
          • by KGIII ( 973947 )

            Not entirely correct. Some highways, made of concrete, use rebar. See Google for more information, I'm sure they mention it. Heavily trafficked highways will get fairly large rebar - think 3/4" to 1 1/4" diameters.

    • We've been doing maglev for quite a while now

      We've been doing THIS for quite a while now. This thing was first announced and a demo video released months ago. It's old news.

    • by raxx7 ( 205260 )

      I'm not aware of any practical maglev system which levitates by using magnetic repulsion against a simple sheet of metal (copper).
      Depending on how much power they're using and whether they can make it work with a cheaper metal than copper, this can be an interesting technology.

      • by gl4ss ( 559668 )

        well, hendo is one.

        just look for one of the hendo explanation videos or some older science experiment video that uses the same trick. basically,tape some magnets on some dremels, attach said dremels to a board, turn on and put on a conductive sheet. it's not a very practical phenomena which is why you rarely see it - in essence for 99% uses just attaching 4 wheels to said board is more practical.

        though these guys have some way of actually moving it forward? that would be somewhat interesting.

    • Now when they don't need a special surface to function, then they can call it a hoverboard.

      That's likely to be a while off. Technically a strong enough magnetic field will work but it needs to be a few orders of magnitude higher than what you need for a Lenz' law effect like this. In a high enough magnetic field you can turn any atom into a tiny magnet which will repel the field but the field strength needs to be several tens of Tesla. Still if you can achieve that you can have some fun [youtube.com].

    • by Ungrounded Lightning ( 62228 ) on Sunday October 25, 2015 @06:34PM (#50799757) Journal

      We've been doing maglev for quite a while now, though few people tried to ride them like a skateboard before.

      No kidding.

      The electrical demos in Chicago's Museum of Science and Industry had a demonstrator in the late '50s. It was a half-transformer-like device about the size of a small outside unit for a whole-house air conditioner - a cylinder about 3 feet across and three feet high.

      It generated a large, repulsive, "elevator field" in the center - over the bulk of the upper surface, and a slightly inward-directed "fence field" around the perimiter, to keep whatever it was floating centered.

      What they usually floated was a metal (copper?) disk about 3 feet across, which floated maybe 6 inches above the device. They could angle the fence field slightly and make the disk spin slowly. The guy demonstrating it also removed the device by holding a second, slightly larger, disk just below it and edging it into the field from the side. When this was moved into the fence field it disrupted it at that spot, so the remaining fields convenient spit the disk onto this "hot tray.

      And hot tray it was. The disk got hot from the eddy currents. The demonstrator said they had considered using this as a stovetop (anticipating induction cooktops, but with levitation) but it hadn't worked out.

      Came back a decade later and they were still using it - but the sides of the disk had gotten folded upward about 30 degrees and somewhat randomly, turning it into an artsy-looking bowl. Seems somebody had left it floating long enough for the metal to soften, and the fence fields had pushed it up.

      Miniaturizing the elevator-field portion of this, probably raising the frequency, and turning it upside down, with field-shape tweaks to keep it level, would produce an over-a-conductive-plate hoverboard. Tweak the fence fields into a couple linear motors along the edge to provide propulsion and steering. (You might even be able to set up the fields so you accelerate, brake, and steer by tilting, making local effects stronger on particular regions of the edge by bringing the pole pieces closer to the conductive surface.)

    • Wouldn't it work to use it in a skate park type environment though? It would be pretty cool to do that, though I can't imagine how it would work.

  • by TWX ( 665546 ) on Sunday October 25, 2015 @01:08PM (#50798119)
    I'm not sure how to interpret "swirls of electricity", either in terms of particles or in terms of field theory...
    • by dissy ( 172727 )

      I'm not sure how to interpret "swirls of electricity", either in terms of particles or in terms of field theory...

      I'm pretty sure they just attached a few arc welders to a novelty sized pinwheel on a stick, mounted to the front of the skateboard.

      At least that's what I imagine I would have done just before uttering the phrase "swirls of electricity"

    • Google "Mechanical Maglev" a guy named Bill Beaty has you covered.

  • This can't possibly be the first, second, or even tenth time we've heard about a maglev hoverboard...
  • This board will not win me chicks [xkcd.com]. It will not help me find an almanac from the future. It will not make me Marty McFly.

    No sale.
  • Lexus Says (Score:1, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward

    Lexus says; 'Your shit sucks!'

    This is a hoverboard. [youtube.com] it might not have a very long run time, but it's decades ahead of your Kickstarter ripoff.

    • Wow, now I want room-temperature superconductors more than ever.
    • by Anonymous Coward

      The problem with the Lexus version (other than the need for liquid nitrogen) is that it only runs on 1D tracks rather than a 2D surface like this one. Lexus buried those tracks under a skate park, but it's more like a mini rollercoaster than a skateboard.

  • If it's generating enough magnetic force to lift a person, it seems like the induced currents must be pretty high. Wonder how hot it gets the substrate, especially if you hover in one place for a bit?

    Perhaps you could flip it over and use it as a portable four-element induction stovetop...

  • I was doing superconductor levitation back in the 1980's, as a kids's science fair project. Now, at the time, I shouldn't afford enough materials to stand on, but this is exactly the same thing.

    Lots of techno-babble in TFS & TFA.

    For those who haven't seen it in action, random youtube link:
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?... [youtube.com]

  • You invented maglev again?

    Maybe you could try to patent it in Australia [newscientist.com]...

  • When it works on *any* surface. Then you will have a hover board.
  • by tommeke100 ( 755660 ) on Monday October 26, 2015 @07:52AM (#50802053)
    If you use metal as surface (probably somehow magnetized), couldn't you just hover it with magnets? I mean, what's the big deal here?

"Don't worry about people stealing your ideas. If your ideas are any good, you'll have to ram them down people's throats." -- Howard Aiken