Hoverboard: Reality or Fantasy?

The hoverboard, or more accurately, electronic hands-free self-balancing scooters have become one of the most enticing gifts for tech-lovers, youngsters and explorers since it was introduced in 2015. The hype is certainly justified because hoverboarding allows you to live the dream that we’ve all had since we saw Marty McFly riding a ‘hoverboard’ in Back to the Future II back in 1989.

In simple words, we can say that the hoverboard is a “futuristic skateboard” consisting of two motorized wheels and a kind of board with partitions to accommodate the feets..

It’s a small and portable equipment, whose engine is fed by a electric battery, which has been standing out in the urban mobility market.

The Magnetic Hoverboard

The physical concept applied to the board is called magnetic levitation. Magnets and superconductors work together at very low temperatures to make magnetic fields repilate themselves, creating a kind of levitation.

Superconductors are materials that, when subjected to very low temperatures, have no electrical resistance. When combined with magnets, the effect of overdiamagnetism occurs, in which magnetic permeability is zero (there is no magnetic field within the material).

So, when placed on a permanent magnet, the superconductor gets stuck in the permanent magnetic field and, while very cold, will continue to float. The task, from this part, is due to two tracks embedded on the board, which cool the superconductor at a temperature of     -197 ° C from liquid nitrogen.

Also, not only does a trail of magnets be needed to repel the superconductor, but it also needs to be cooled all the time by liquid nitrogen.

The Hover Park and Lexus hoverboard: Slide

Lexus has created a hoverboard called Slide.Operated like a skateboard, the Slide doesn’t require batteries or a power supply but does need magnets on a rail embedded in the ground to work. Lexus has built a hoverpark in Barcelona. A park that has skate -like tracks, but also has a 200 m magnetic trail below, which is only where magic happens.

Part of the floor of the Hover Park is covered with plaster so as not to disturb the functioning of the magnetic fields.

The Technology

Although it seems that we have just taken a step into the future, there are already devices that use magnetic levitation for a few years now. We have, for example, a Chinese train developed to travel at speeds up to 620 km/h. Also, common objects like LED globe that uses magnetic levitation.

In Brazil

Based on the same technology, there is already a similar project in Brazil: the Maglev Cobra. Developed by scientists at the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro (UFRJ), Cobra uses only electricity, works at an average speed of 70 km/h and researchers estimate that the cost of production is equivalent to one third of what the subway costs.