Ever since Marty McFly hopped aboard his pink hoverboard in 1989's Back to the Future Part II, the world has been waiting for real scientists and engineers to catch up. Now, finally, it appears that you can get your hands on one - if you have $10,000.
Ever since the fictional hoverboards in 1989’s Back to the Future Park II children (and adults) have dreamed of scooting along six inches from the ground, safe from the rough terrain and water which would stop a normal skateboard in its tracks.
In the 90s the film’s director Robert Zemeckis cruelly spread rumours that a commercial version was under development, raising hopes around the world before scientists dashed them with a dose of reality - the problem was just too hard.
But now a Californian startup claims to have cracked it and developed a working prototype, although there are several catches: the battery only lasts seven minutes, it will only float over smooth metal and it costs $10,000. There is also a limited supply of just ten hoverboards available.
Hendo Hover has turned to Kickstarter to crowdfund the $250,000 it needs to create the first run of products. It claims to need the money to put the “finishing touches” to its device.
Currently its HENDO hoverboard levitates one inch from the ground but will only work above conductive surfaces.
The money raised will also go towards “creating places to ride them”, as existing skateparks with their tarmac surface are unsuitable. Engineers claim that one day they could be improved to work on any surface, but this is still some way off.
Those pledging $5 will get a mention on the company’s social media accounts, while those giving $100 will get a five minute ride on a hoverboard. Only those giving $10,000 will get a hoverboard, and there are only 10 available in this campaign.
The company claims that those donating to get a hoverboard will be presented with the devices today, but only $3,856 of the target of $250,000 has so far been raised, meaning that nobody with deep pockets has yet taken the plunge.
VIDEO: Back to the Future: Scientists create a real hoverboard
“Our engineering team has been amazing, rapidly iterating on design after design. In fact, this our 18th prototype, and we continue to make advances week after week,” says the company’s Kickstarter campaign.
“The magic behind the hoverboard lies in its four disc-shaped hover engines. These create a special magnetic field which literally pushes against itself, generating the lift which levitates our board off the ground.”
A video reportedly showing the device in action gives the impression that it’s rather hard to control: without wheels or friction it seems nearly impossible to point it in a specific direction. It is intended to be propelled with the push of a foot, like a skateboard, but its creators say that the technology used to make it levitate could be adapted to provide forward momentum.
Despite the obvious connection to the Back to the Future franchise featuring Michael J. Fox as Marty McFly, it seems that the company is making no direct connection: “Yep, there was a movie. However, our attorneys have told us not to go there.”
The company has also created a “whitebox” device which will float in the same way as the hoverboard, and be used to demonstrate the technology to engineers: “It is designed to be explored, taken apart, and analysed, encouraging you to dare to wonder.”
VIDEO:Back to the Future
The startup hopes that it can licence the technology to be used in factories, warehouses and anywhere else that levitating heavy objects could prove useful. Telegraph.co.uk