Is it possible to hover around like in back to the future?
One of the greatest time travel movies of all time — Back to the Future, gave us a glimpse of many futuristic innovations such as self-lacing sneakers and flying cars.
However, there is one particular gadget from Back to the Future II that nobody can ever forget if they have seen the movie —- the hoverboard. Remember the scene in which Marty McFly is seen flying away from Griff Tannen and his gang of other bullies? This is where we got to see on-screen hoverboards for the first time.
More than 30 years have passed since Back to the Future II first hit the theatres. In the last three decades, although humans have invented pretty cool things like smartphones and eVTOLs, fans are still waiting for a hoverboard that works exactly like the one they saw in the film.
A hoverboard is basically a skateboard that floats in the air. There have been some designs in the past that tried to mimic this concept but the truth is they failed to meet even the basic criteria for being considered a real hoverboard.
For example, if you would search “hoverboard” on Amazon, you’ll get to see many boards that hover but with the help of tires. Well, that ain’t a hoverboard, that’s a self-balancing scooter.
Wait a minute, so we can make planes fly but we can’t make a skateboard levitate, why? Actually, there are some cool hoverboard ideas as well.
An electromagnetic hoverboard, for instance, will float in the air in the presence of a magnetic field powerful enough to overcome gravitational pull and at the same time push away (repel) the electrically charged magnets inside the board.
However, electromagnetic hoverboard comes nowhere close to superconductor hoverboard when it comes to the way they fly. A superconductor hoverboard suspends is air above magnets and releases icy vapors while doing so, looking almost magical and back to the futur-ish.
There is a catch though.
The icy vapors come from the frozen superconductor that is packed inside the hoverboard and is required to be maintained at -200 °C. How would you maintain such freezing temperatures inside a thing that is supposed to stay in motion above the ground? This question still needs to be answered.
Another challenge with both the semiconductor and the electromagnetic hoverboard is they can not function in the absence of a magnetic field. Any hoverboard that suspends in the air due to magnetic force demands a magnetically charged surface to function.
So if you want to show off your moves on a floating superconductor hoverboard on a busy street. Sorry to disappoint you but you can’t do that unless you turn the street roads into magnetic tracks.
There are some other designs that use jet engines and drone propellers that look exciting but none of them has yet managed to give us our “Great Scott!” moment. It’s 2022 and Back to the Future fans are still waiting for their time-traveling DeLorean and levitating hoverboard that they were supposed to see in 2015 — believe me, “this is heavy!”