Who knew that Toyota execs had a team stowed away doing R&D on futuristic flying cars? Well, that’s what the automaker’s apparently been up to, which brings us to the big news from Lexus this week. Thursday, Toyota’s luxury brand announced that it’s built a hoverboard. You know, like the one used by Marty McFly in the Back to the Future movie trilogy.
This is no hoax. Lexus says it’s the real deal. But don’t get too excited, yet. It won’t be going on sale anytime soon and it’s only a prototype for product demonstration. There’s still a ton of testing to do and kinks to work out. But still this is cool stuff.
“At Lexus, we constantly challenge ourselves and our partners to push the boundaries of what is possible. That determination, combined with our passion and expertise for design and innovation, is what led us to take on the Hoverboard project. It’s the perfect example of the amazing things that can be achieved when you combine technology, design and imagination,” says Mark Templin, executive vice president, Lexus International.
A new Lexus video reveals a skateboard like hoverboard hovering motionlessly at a skate park, as steam seeps out from the bottom of the board. Lexus says the design of the board reflects the luxury brands cars with its natural bamboo top, emblazoned Lexus logo, and signature Lexus spindle grille shape.
So just how does this thing work? Well, the board uses special technology called magnetic levitation that uses liquid nitrogen cooled superconductors and magnets to create the frictionless hover movement. Oh yeah, magnetic levitation is really a thing.
This future-like technology is already being used by a Japanese railway company on a magnetic levitation train. The train hovers about four inches above the track as it zips along. Last year, this train set a new world speed record traveling around 374 miles per hour. So yes, you could plausibly use this technology to escape antagonists of the future while skating around at breakneck speed.
The video doesn’t exactly show the board in action, so it’s unclear how much weight it can support and what even riding it would look like. However, maybe they’ll get all that figured out during testing now underway in Barcelona, Spain.
Some of the kinks to be worked out include the limitation set by the reliance on magnets, which means that the hover technology only works over steel surfaces. When it comes to power, the board can only last as long as the liquid nitrogen does.
Lexus is expected to tell us more on October 21st, and we have to say it would be super cool if Marty McFly himself showed up to the party.
Photo Credit: Lexus