Lexus goes back to the future with superconducting hoverboard

The Engineer is offering 2-for-1 on videos this week with Lexus revealing tests of an entirely new form of personal transport, plus the story behind its development.

The mode of transport is a hoverboard, a much-imagined concept that has so far not made it too far beyond the realms of science fiction.

The luxury car making division of Toyota has spent the past 18 months attempting to reverse this by developing a hoverboard with scientists from IFW Dresden and evico GmbH, a Dresden-based specialist in magnetic levitation technology.

Lexus say the hoverboard is constructed from an insulated core containing high temperature superconducting blocks that are housed in cryostats, which are reservoirs of liquid nitrogen that cool the superconductors to -197°C.  They add that 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. To test the concept, around 200m of magnetic track was transported to a specially constructed “hoverpark” near Barcelona.

Note, the hoverboard isn’t likely to make it onto any wishlists just yet as it is still at the prototype stage.