11

In a teaser video that has been viewed over 5 million times and taken seriously by many media outlets (e.g. the BBC), Lexus International make a bold claim:

Lexus has created a real, rideable hoverboard.

The description mostly hypes an associated project "Slide" and offers ways to follow it. The short video itself implies something more specific:

  • Someone wearing casual trainers rides a regular skateboard over concrete which looks like a street or skate park, then steps off
  • They step towards a slim "hoverboard" which appears to be floating about 1cm above the ground (which appears to be ordinary concrete), and is rocking slightly, emitting some sort of exhaust
  • They appear to be stepping on to it, as if it can be ridden above concrete as easily and casually as the earlier skateboard, then the footage ends

I'm rather skeptical... However, this does appear to be a genuine promotion by a major technology company, being taken seriously by mainstream media.

Is it true that Lexus have a prototype "real, rideable hoverboard" that looks like the sleek item in the video and that someone can just step on and ride on regular concrete wearing regular trainers? (Even if only for a few seconds?)


This Wired article claims the device is real but only works on magnetized surfaces using similar technology to maglev trains - however, the article appears to be based on expert speculation, not evidence. It does, however, allude to a conversation with a Lexus spokesperson Maurice Durand who allegedly confirmed this is part of an ad campaign for an as-yet not announced car, and does not involve new or novel technology.

The above linked BBC article also mentions magnets and superconductors, and suggests the video was filmed in a "modified skatepark in Barcelona", which is consistent with the idea that it is real but has similar limitations to maglev i.e. needing a special surface, but doesn't confirm anything about the hoverboard's usability or limitations.

  • 4
    There's nothing new there. At least three years ago it was done live in a Spanish TV show, along with an explanation of how it worked. You can see it around minute 5 here. The program conductor Pablo Motos and actor Will Smith both ride the board. – Diego Sánchez Jun 28 '15 at 3:23
  • 2
    Another article about it – Bobson Jul 14 '15 at 14:56
  • 2
    I know of two ideas for Hoverboards. The Hendo, which uses high speed rotating magnets to hover over a magnetic surface, and the Lexus, which appears to use Superconducting metals to take advantage of quantum locking to hover. Both of which have videos explaining how they work. quantum locking specifically has numerous videos showing it in action. however, they must be over very specific surfaces, almost exclusively metallic, magnetic surfaces to work. both of which have tons of people supporting them, and no one has solid evidence that either are a hoax. quantum locking has been around for pr – Ryan Jul 17 '15 at 20:05
3

The hoverboard is real.

As stated on Lexus' own website:

The hoverboard is constructed from an insulated core, containing HTSLs (high temperature superconducting blocks). These are housed in cryostats - reservoirs of liquid nitrogen that cool the superconductors to -197°C. The board is then placed above a track containing permanent magnets. When the board is cooled to its operating temperature the track’s magnetic flux lines are ‘pinned’ into place, maintaining the hover height of the board.

If you look again at the videos of the hoverboard (such as the one here), you can see white gas evaporating from the hoverboard. This white gas is the evaporating liquid nitrogen. When the liquid nitrogen has significantly evaporated, the temperature of the superconductors increases past a critical temperature, the superconductor loses its superconductivity, and the board fails to levitate.

You wrote:

They step towards a slim "hoverboard" which appears to be floating about 1cm above the ground (which appears to be ordinary concrete), and is rocking slightly, emitting some sort of exhaust

In the pictures in this article, the "ordinary concrete" isn't ordinary concrete, but contains an embedded metal track. Superconductors (in the skateboard) repel and levitate above magnets (the metal). This allows the hoverboard to "hover."

They appear to be stepping on to it, as if it can be ridden above concrete as easily and casually as the earlier skateboard, then the footage ends.

The video available here clearly shows many failure attempts when the skateboarder rides the skateboard. From the video, it becomes obvious that it took many takes to get footage of some easy and casual riding.

This Wired article claims the device is real but only works on magnetized surfaces using similar technology to maglev trains - however, the article appears to be based on expert speculation, not evidence. It does, however, allude to a conversation with a Lexus spokesperson Maurice Durand who allegedly confirmed this is part of an ad campaign for an as-yet not announced car, and does not involve new or novel technology.

This is (partially) true, the hoverboard is mentioned as part of the ad campaign for the Lexus Sport Yacht Lexus Sport Yacht (see here).

What other evidence is there?

Long, wide shots of the hoverboard. It is harder to fake fake tech when the screen is so wide (ask this here). Simply shrink the screen to hide wires! Why not?

The scientists in this video are named. The named scientists are Dietmar Berger and Ludwig Schultz. Why have real scientists with credibility in the field on a fake project when you can hire actors to portray "tech guys"? This was the case for the HUVr Board, which turned out to be a hoax.

The coverage by mainstream sites. Ars Technica, cnet, Wired, Engadget, Business Insider, The Guardian, Quartz, and Digital Trends all wrote articles on this, and when they suggest a technology, they all suggest superconductors. In addition, a journalist from The Verge actually rode the hoverboard. Why have journalists visit a non-existent bogus object and actually use it?

Finally, even after 2+ years, there haven't been notable claims that the hoverboard was a hoax.

Is it true that Lexus have a prototype "real, rideable hoverboard" that looks like the sleek item in the video and that someone can just step on and ride on regular concrete wearing regular trainers?

Yes, Lexus has a prototype hoverboard that can actually hover.

| improve this answer | |
  • Does it work on water? ;) – colmde Apr 10 '19 at 22:38
  • @colmde In one of the linked videos, it worked on water. If I had to guess, there was a metal rail under the water. – Barry Harrison Apr 10 '19 at 22:45

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .