So Back to the Future was telling the truth! We really will be hopping on our hoverboards for the daily commute. Well maybe if we had $14,900, and our commute was just 6 minutes.
After Tony Hawk’s viral hoverboard hoax left us all feeling disappointed back in 2014, there have been a number of working hoverboard prototypes revealed. First this one, that only works on a ferromagnetic surface, and then this one from auto company Lexus. While both of these designs use current technology and ‘work’, unfortunately there are plenty of limitations.
Last Christmas however, Arca Space Corporation, the team behind the world’s largest solar balloon and the AirStrato, revealed their plans to launch the world’s first ‘real’ hoverboard. Little information was given and the board was made available to pre-order for a whopping sum of $19,900.
This week however, thanks to new production partnerships worked out between a US and Chinese firm, Southwest Composite Works Inc. and Eco Molding Co, the team revealed that the ‘ArcaBoard’ will be available to purchase for $14,900 ($5000 less than the original asking price – a bargain!) They’ve also released a video of the device in action (below) that shows a promising concept, though I’m not sure it’s as revolutionary as they describe.
So it’s not exactly the slick pink board we’ve been hoping for, but this design does show a lot of promise. By taking things back a notch (technology-wise), Arca may have actually developed a hoverboard concept that could, at least in principle, be used day to day. Using a similar fan-thrust design to the Aero-X Hoverbike, the ArcaBoard is equipped with 272 horsepower and 430 lb (1913 N) of thrust.
The board’s 36 high-power electric ducted fans will keep you in the air for around six minutes (max), which will take you a little over a mile with a top speed of 20 km/h (12.5 mph). This range is improved by the recently announced replacement battery packs, meaning users can swap in a freshly-charged pack in less than a minute instead of waiting 35 minutes for a recharge.
Plans call for the ArcaBoard to be officially introduced on April 14th at Monaco’s Top Marques event. Not long to wait then, to see how it stands up against the range of super cars at the show.
Could this be the start of a revolutionary breakthrough for transportation? While it looks a bit clumsy at the moment, after refining the design and improving battery life, hoverboards could soon be as popular as Segways. Let us know your thoughts in the comments below.