Remember the hoverboard from Back to the Future II? Of course you do—it’s the one thing from the movie’s future that everybody wanted in real life.
Now a group of engineers claim to have built a working hoverboard, and they’re raising funds for it on Kickstarter. The first 10 people to pony up $10,000 or more will receive production units, which can support the weight of one human being up to 250 pounds and float roughly an inch above the ground.
How does this hoverboard actually work? The team built four “disc-shaped hover engines,” according to the Kickstarter page, which “create a special magnetic field which literally pushes against itself.” There’s just one catch: The engines only work if the board glides over a surface that’s a “non-ferromagnetic conductor,” i.e. one of a few kinds of metal: Anyone who wants to act on a lifelong dream of cruising like Back to the Future’s Marty McFly will need to build a pad or skateboard ramp out of copper.
While the market for an ultra-expensive, battery-hungry hoverboard is likely miniscule, there are some broad applications for the magnetic-levitation technology that powers it, such as next-generation maglev trains.
Considering how Back to the Future II took place in 2015, you could say the future’s come a little early.
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