Surprise! Lexus went and made a bona fide hoverboard.
Called the SLIDE, the gorgeous piece of levitating bamboo and metal tech is part of the luxury automaker's R&D division. While the teaser video doesn't actually show someone catching air on the device, the company claims that the SLIDE is 100 percent real and ridable. What threw everyone for a loop (and gave "Back to the Future" fans more reason to believe) was the fact that this one appeared to be floating above a regular concrete surface. Previous hoverboard concepts, like the $10,000 Hendo Hover that Tony Hawk took for a spin last year, have utilized magnets and magnetic surfaces to achieve lift.
While Lexus did reveal that the SLIDE uses "liquid nitrogen cooled superconductors and permanent magnets" it took a little prodding from Engadget to get them to reveal what was going on in the teaser.
"We got in touch with Lexus, and confirmed that like the other examples we've seen, there is a metal surface underneath the skate park shown here -- it's real, but you won't be riding this thing just anywhere," they shared.
The fact that the SLIDE can seemingly operate through a concrete layer on top of a metal surface does give some indication that future infrastructure for this technology might not be completely improbable. Taking it one floating step further, this high-tech demonstration is actually part of Lexus' research into levitating vehicles.
“It’s very confidential information but we have been studying the flying car in our most advanced R&D area,” Hiroyoshi Yoshiki, a managing officer in Toyota’s Technical Administration Group, said in June 2014 at the Bloomberg Next Big Thing Summit. “Flying car means the car is just a little bit away from the road, so it doesn’t have any friction or resistance from the road.”
Costs and engineering aside, it's easy to imagine the roads and sidewalks of the future all receiving a metal layer under asphalt or concrete to accommodate such technology. So while we might not be able to easily hit the skies above Hill Valley, at least we might one day glide along its roads.
Let's just hope they figure out a way to make it work on water.
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