back to article Here – here is that 'hoverboard' you've wanted so much. Look at it. Look. at. it.

While record numbers of people around the world are picking up injuries from wheeled "hoverboards" this Christmas season, aerospace company Arca Space thinks it has got the real deal. Youtube Video "I've always wanted to create a commercially available product for the masses, so I've put all my experience, all my skills, from …

  1. John Smith 19 Gold badge
    Unhappy

    I always thought the control problem would be much worse than balencing on it.

    Once you're more than a leg's length off the ground you're in deep trouble.

    Not that this thing will get anywhere near that.

    Still waiting for the one using the the nN spermatazoa motor and a supply of ATP.

    Oh well, maybe next decade.

    1. Dave 126 Silver badge

      Re: I always thought the control problem would be much worse than balencing on it.

      Exactly. User reports of prior hoverboards (the magnet types that run on copper tracks) suggest they are be akin to trying to steer a snowboard that didn't have the sharp edge for cutting into the snow. i.e rubbbish.

      This one might be slightly different, if some of the fans are vectored away from vertical, but still it doesn't seem great.

  2. Steven Raith

    Oh dear

    Clever boy here watched the video first, and assumed it was a spoof of some kind - with the overemotional reactions, grand claims, etc. I half expected to see Charlie Brooker in there, taking the piss out of over the top Indigogo/kickstarter videos.

    Then discover that no, it's not a spoof. These people are for real.

    Tragic. Subtle hint guys, it's a toy, and not a very good or practical one at that. Making it out like it's the future of personal transportation is laughable.

    Steven "humbug" R

    1. Hey Nonny Nonny Mouse

      Re: Oh dear

      Maybe not quite the immediate future but some advances in battery technology and maybe a thrust vectoring system like the Harrier and I reckon it could become a whole heap more viable.

      But right now, it looks like it's attempting to kill the rider.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Oh dear

        Even with advances in battery capability WTF is the point of hovering instead of wheeling along? OK, you can go over water with the hovering variety, but with decent wheels you can traverse 99% of the terrain one is likely to encounter in urban/suburban/semi-rural areas so the only reason for making it hover is idiots who want a movie to become real life.

        1. Adam 1

          Re: Oh dear

          I don't know that batteries are the real problem. Don't get me wrong, I am sure that they are responsible for a few of the zeros in the price, but think about that 6 hour standard charger. The Tesla model S charges in under 10 hours from a standard outlet, so you are looking at a substantial power bill for 6 minutes of fun.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Oh dear

            Without fast charging a typical phone takes a few hours to fully charge from a standard outlet. Do you think that means it takes 1/3 of the power to charge that a Tesla does?

          2. Chemist

            Re: Oh dear

            "The Tesla model S charges in under 10 hours from a standard outlet, so you are looking at a substantial power bill for 6 minutes of fun."

            I'm not sure what you are trying to say - without intending to be patronising : not all batteries are equal, the battery in the Tesla has many, many times the energy storage capacity of the 'hoverboard' hence needs much more power from the charger.

            1. Adam 1

              Re: Oh dear

              Assuming your 200KW figure (below) is correct, and assuming the 6 minute runtime is realistic, and assuming 100% efficiency in charging and running, the battery would need to hold at least 20KW/hr of energy. A typical fan heater draws 2 - 2.4KW, so you're right, not quite Tesla territory but definitely in the "8 - 10 hours of fan heater" running costs.

              1. Chemist

                Re: Oh dear

                The ~200kW figure is just the 270HP figure mentioned in the video. However that seems very high. Each of those small fans would need to be 6kW which seems a very high figure for a fan a few inches in diameter.

                1. Anonymous Coward
                  Anonymous Coward

                  Re: Oh dear

                  LiON batteries all have a fairly similar power to weight ratio - at least you can't get ones that 3-4x better in that regard or someone (Apple) would have stuck them in their phones to make them even thinner or someone else (Motorola) would to make their phones last multiple days without making the phone noticeably thicker.

                  It is safe to assume that most of the weight of this "hoverboard" is batteries, so it shouldn't be hard to calculate the energy storage based on its weight.

        2. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Oh dear

          "OK, you can go over water with the hovering variety"

          Without a skirt you will still be displacing around 100kg of water with the downward air thrust. You're going to fall into a wet hole, (like that Saudi who got acquitted the other day).

        3. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Oh dear

          Amen, brother. With decent wheels and that oft-maligned friction you can actually steer, too.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Oh dear

      Clever boy here watched the video first, and assumed it was a spoof of some kind - with the overemotional reactions, grand claims, etc. I half expected to see Charlie Brooker in there, taking the piss out of over the top Indigogo/kickstarter videos.

      Then discover that no, it's not a spoof. These people are for real.

      My impression on watching that vid is that it's a very simple device quickly put together with off the shelf parts as a publicity stunt by a small company - and nicely timed for when burning wheeled "hoverboards" are in the news and being given as gifts. Practicality unimportant, as long as it looks cool and hopefully goes viral. So since we're all watching and discussing that vid, in that sense its mission complete.

      1. Chemist

        Re: Oh dear

        "a very simple device quickly put together with off the shelf parts as a publicity stunt by a small company "

        This small Romanian/USA company has kerosene/LOX rockets capable of sub-orbital flight ( so their pub. states) ! (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/ARCA_Space_Corporation)

  3. Frederic Bloggs

    Or maybe this?

    This seems to work a bit better and is probably cheaper.

    1. Captain DaFt

      Re: Or maybe this?

      And here's a video of it setting a Guinness World Record.

      Much more stable/powerful than the one in the article.

      1. Michael Wojcik Silver badge

        Re: Or maybe this?

        Hoverboard? That thing's an entire hoverdeck. You could fit a picnic table on it.

        Not that I care. If I needed a hovering vehicle for some reason, I'd use a conventional hovercraft; and for many of the potential applications I'd think an amphibious vehicle like the Gibbs Quadski makes more sense.

    2. Mark 85 Silver badge

      @Frederic Bloggs -- Re: Or maybe this?

      Meh.... needs Flash. Not gonna' happen at this end.

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Keep it. I've got a Pit Bull now.

  5. Danny 2 Silver badge

    Larry Walters is probably the only person to earn a Darwin Award before killing themselves. And he is probably spinning in his grave over this.

    Does anyone have one of those banned pseudo-hoverboards that explode when they overheat? My nephew wants one and I'd like to get him one.

    1. YetAnotherLocksmith

      I've been suggesting people donate the fantastic exploding devices to their local hackspace/makerspace.

      Get someone sensible to check it out at least, lest you burn the house down!

  6. TonyK

    Where's the vomit icon?

    I've never heard such a spew-inducing sales pitch! It's a shame, because I wanted to learn more about this cool toy, but every time I switched the audio back on my stomach started to spasm. Full marks to Iain Thomson for toughing it out to the end.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Where's the vomit icon?

      Anagram:

      Dumitru Popescu == I Produce Sputum

  7. John Brown (no body) Silver badge
    WTF?

    WTF?

    It's huge! And all you get is 6 minutes "flying" time?

    With a "box" that big I suspect you could use model jet engines and have plenty of room left over for a decent amount of fuel.

    If we're going to make silly, expensive and impractical toys then I think eight 52lb thrust jet engines are going to make a much cooler sounding toy than dozens of electric fans. Cooling might be an issue, so maybe not so cool in the long run.

    1. Flocke Kroes Silver badge

      Re: Comparison 36x electric fans with 8x mini jet engines

      The specs we have for the electric product are 10kg board, 80kg passenger and 200kgf of thrust. I will assume that the average thrust is 90kgf, but that it is distributed unevenly among the fans to keep the board from flipping over.

      The jet proposal has 8x 52lbf of thrust for a maximum of 189.1 kgf. If we assume the same 90/200 ratio to keep control, the mass of board + passenger must be reduced to 85.1kg. The jet engines require 25oz/minute of fuel each at full power. Scaling that by 90/200 because the engines are not set to full power all the time, six minutes of hovering time uses 16.34kg of fuel. Lets call that 8.17kg because the fuel tank starts full and ends empty. The engines are 2.51kg each. If we allow 0.34kg to provide a surface to stand on, and hold the engines and fuel tank together then we are down to 57kg for the passenger.

      To match the electric product's 80kg passenger, we need 12 jet engines weighing 30.1kg and costing $51,540. Also 23kg (7.5 US gallons) of jet A1 1-K aviation fuel per 6 minutes of hovering. As well as burning a hole in your wallet, the jet's exhaust is 750°C, so it will burn your house down if you ride it indoors.

      1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge
        Thumb Up

        Re: Comparison 36x electric fans with 8x mini jet engines

        "As well as burning a hole in your wallet, the jet's exhaust is 750°C, so it will burn your house down if you ride it indoors."

        Hoi! Stop that right now and take a step back. This is the El Reg Commentard forum. Please leave common sense and arithmetic at the door!

        PS, Thanks, I really didn't even consider the numbers, it just sounded a lot cooler than "wimpy" electrics. I guess the idea doesn't really fly because it's too noisy.

        1. Vic

          Re: Comparison 36x electric fans with 8x mini jet engines

          I guess the idea doesn't really fly because it's too noisy.

          Pah. This is how you make a noise.

          Vic.

  8. No such thing as an Anonymous Coward
    Mushroom

    On water, they say...

    The science: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NowdrL6fvb4

  9. Adam 1

    off road??

    I somehow doubt that 1900N of air hitting dirt is going to end with anything other than rocks and dust flying every which way.

  10. Mark Scorah

    reg units?

    what's 200kg force in the reg's units?

    1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

      Re: reg units?

      About 2 BOFHS standing on your head while you approve this as a rapid server relocation platform.

    2. Robert Helpmann??
      Childcatcher

      Re: reg units?

      Comes to 19.6136 Norrises.

      The conversions page is here though it is a bit off as it renders a cubic foot as 1727.9611 cubic inches though it has no such problem with metric units of measure.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: reg units?

      "what's 200kg force in the reg's units?"

      A merkin/2 feet

  11. Bob Dole (tm)
    Thumb Up

    give it 3 years - it'll be 499.99 and have 4 hours of battery life. I'll take 2 then.

    1. Flocke Kroes Silver badge

      Moore's law for batteries

      A few years ago, batteries got about 20% extra capacity per year while the price dropped 20%. These days, the capacity figure is closer to 5% per year. The price reduction is harder to estimate because battery prices are now mixed in with fire bomb prices.

      Physics limits battery energy density to about three or four times what you can buy today. Electric motors are about 80 to 90 % efficient, so room temperature super conductors, magnetic bearings and all possible advances in tech only get you another 25% at best. The complete board is 10kg. If we split that 50/50 for batteries and motors, and use magic massless motors, we can double battery weight and get to a theoretical limit of almost an hour in the air.

      The big problem with the hover board design is it moves a small area of air very fast. You can get the same thrust for less power if you move a large area of air slower. At a guess, the model jet engines mentioned above use low temperatures to simplify the design, reduce maintenance and use cheap materials. Engines on big aircraft push cold air through the inside of the turbine blades made from high temperature materials so they do not melt. This allows a higher combustion temperature, which improves efficiency, so better power to weight ratio and less fuel used.

      If you design a small turbine with similar features to a big aircraft engine and use it to spin a big propeller, you get a helicopter hover board that can fly for hours with existing tech. (Also requires a pilot's licence, regular maintenance and a really big bank balance).

      1. Mage Silver badge
        Flame

        Re: Moore's law for batteries

        " batteries got about 20% extra capacity per year while the price dropped 20%. "

        Which batteries?

        Not Lithium, Alkaline or Lead Acid.

        (I agree broadly with the rest. It's unlikely we can get 1/2 as good as the theoretical limit of battery density so you are generous.)

        Alkaline: Similar to 1965. The x5 capacity gain vs Zinc is a lie for anything at 1/10C discharge, more like x2.

        Lead Acid, Zinc Carbon: similar to 1950s

        NiCd increased a bit from 1940s to 1970, then peaked at 450mAH to 500mAH

        Never really. What happened is that different battery technologies were developed and then later became economic.

        Lithium cells have hardly increased in capacity or life in 10 years. The number of cycles is still an issue.

        By volume NiMH now match Lithium, but weigh very much more. They are about x5 capacity of NiCd now. originally NiMH were about x2 to x3 the capacity of NiCd.

        1. Flocke Kroes Silver badge

          Re: Which batteries

          Taken from a quote from Elon Musk about electric car batteries. That was probably an unusual situation, but it was reasonably reliable number found with a minimal internet search.

    2. micheal

      it'll be 499.99 and have 4 hours of battery life

      so a hover i-board 3

  12. Kevin McMurtrie Silver badge
    Trollface

    Will use it to clear leaves from my walkway at 6 AM.

  13. graeme leggett

    inefficient

    Which is why they put a skirt on Cockerill's invention. And a Harrier spends most of its flight moving forward.

    1. allthecoolshortnamesweretaken

      Re: inefficient

      Beat me to it, sort of.

      It's a smeggin' hovercraft! And not a very good one, too.

    2. Neil Barnes Silver badge
      FAIL

      Re: inefficient

      Beat me to it. I'm no expert, but I'm pretty damn sure it doesn't take 270HP to lift a hovercraft. Put a skirt round that and keep the air where it should be, and http://www.hoverhawk.com/lcalc.html suggests that 4HP is nearer the mark. In which case, instead of six minutes for that battery pack, you're looking at more like six hours.

      Design for efficiency!

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: inefficient

        "4HP is nearer the mark. In which case, instead of six minutes for that battery pack, you're looking at more like six hours."

        There's some bad numbers somewhere. 6 hours of 4HP is about 18kWH, which would weigh well over 100kg. I suspect there is a decimal point in the wrong place.

  14. Amorous Cowherder
    Facepalm

    Hmmmm

    Anyone else hear Huey Lewis playing in their head when they read/watched this article?!

  15. Paratrooping Parrot
    Headmaster

    For those who disabled Adobe Flash

    Is it possible to give a link to the Youtube video so then we don't have to use Flash? Thanks

    1. Flocke Kroes Silver badge

      Re: For those who disabled Adobe Flash

      youtube-dl

  16. Chemist

    Nice touch..

    to have the first flight by a PR person - don't want to waste a skilled test pilot !

    'B' Ark next !

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Nice touch..

      With the same surname as the CEO. Which kind of reinforces the impression that this whole thing is just a quick stunt by a small company to get a shedload of publicity at a very modest cost.

  17. RISC OS

    I love new technology like this

    It's really useful when you want to arrive at your friend's house - half a mile away - 10 hours after you set off.

  18. enormous c word

    Murkin Voice over sucks

    "Inside this beautifully crafted airframe, we put all our hopes, all our dreams, all the roads we travelled, all the hardships that we faced. All this to bring you freedom."

    Honestly, this hoverboard is both pointless and cool. But the American Marketing tosser who put these meaningless *inspitational words* together should be flogged for gross-insincerity. I switched off at that point - which is a pity, cos me and the wife and kids are in the market for a hoverboard each ;-)

  19. hi_robb

    FFS

    Just take my money.

  20. Graham Marsden
    Flame

    And I was expecting...

    ... it to be this story from the USA about the "Hoverboard" that caught fire and caused a shopping mall to be evacuated!

  21. volsano

    None of the scoffers so far have considered the practical uses when running in a (hypothetical) tethered mode: You re plugged into a power socket (perhaps your Tesla's cigarette lighter) via 50 meters of lightweight cabling.

    You could now easily get, ohh, say fifteen minutes out of the current device, although not on a public road of course.

    Plenty of time to poise as a low-flying acrobatic idiot with more money to burn that remaining IQ points. With enough make-up and some cross-over with synchronised swimming, it could be an olympic sport candidate.

    1. Chemist

      "You could now easily get, ohh, say fifteen minutes out of the current device, although not on a public road of course."

      270HP out of a cigar lighter socket - WOW !! (~~200kW)

      'lightweight cable' vs 200kW - WOW !

      </cynical>

    2. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

      "You re plugged into a power socket (perhaps your Tesla's cigarette lighter) via 50 meters of lightweight cabling."

      If you want to play tethered and have some spare cash, there's always the water jet pack

      Only €27,490. Or if you already have a suitable jet-ski, only €7990 for a conversion kit, but still a poseur toy :-)

  22. Chozo
    Coat

    Sigh.. only another 115 years till "Supersurf-1" and the world power boarding championships.

    I'll get my coat, it's the one with Free Chopper :) scrawled on the back

  23. Chika
    Facepalm

    Back to Reality 2015

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=J4LI_EqnJq8

    "I'll just hop on a hoverboard..."

  24. Florida1920
    FAIL

    A Flash video???

    Couldn't watch it.

  25. John Smith 19 Gold badge
    Happy

    A fun thought experiment on battery capacity.

    Is to picture an electron as a cube about 10 pico metres on a side.

    it takes roughly 6.25 x 10^18 of these per second to make 1 amp.

    Now work out how big cube that is.

    Modern batteries still have a long way to do.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: A fun thought experiment on battery capacity.

      "Modern batteries still have a long way to do."

      The trick is to find a way of packing them in. Incidentally AFAIK an electron has zero volume as particle and infinite extent as a wave.

      1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge
        Coat

        Re: A fun thought experiment on battery capacity.

        "Incidentally AFAIK an electron has zero volume as particle and infinite extent as a wave."

        So, it's bigger on the inside?

        Yeah, the one with the sonic screwdriver in the pocket.

        (Sonic sunglasses? Where we're goin' we don't need sonic sunglasses)

    2. Chemist

      Re: A fun thought experiment on battery capacity.

      "it takes roughly 6.25 x 10^18 of these per second to make 1 amp."

      The 6.25 x 10^18 is 1 coulomb - to quote, admittedly , Wikipedia ( and I've not had chance to check this )

      two negative point charges of −1 C, placed one meter apart, would experience a repulsive force of 9×109 N, a force roughly equal to the weight of 920000 metric tons of mass on the surface of the Earth.

      This goes some way towards explaining the problem of banging up too many electrons in close proximity - hence the requirement for balancing positive charges which add to the mass and the volume hence someone's comment about 'the laws of Physics'

  26. Bucky 2
    Coat

    Dumitru Popescu is pretty dishy

    Just saying.

  27. Steven Roper

    The one big mistake

    a lot of science-fiction of the 20th century made was the idea that we would or could perfect any kind of anti-gravity in the near future.

    All the devices we thought would become commonplace in the new millennium - personal jetpacks, flying cars, hoverboards, the floating camera drones in Babylon 5 - are all predicated on the idea of flying with very little expenditure of energy.

    Earth's gravity at the surface pulls us downwards with a constant acceleration equivalent to a car doing 0-100 kph (0-60 mph) in 2.8 seconds. Only the most powerful high-end sports cars can achieve anything approaching that. Any device intended to fly must effectively match that acceleration upward merely to hover, let alone gain altitude. And it must maintain that acceleration even when put under load - such as a human being riding the thing. However you colour it, it takes a lot of energy to impart that kind of acceleration to anything much heavier than a tennis ball.

    As to anti-gravity, how do we invent such a thing when we don't really know even what gravity is? Perhaps once we develop a quantum theory of gravity, and/or reconcile the equations of general relativity and quantum mechanics involving it, we might be able to do something in that direction. But we're years, even decades, away from solving those problems, and until we do, we can't even think about inventing any kind of anti-gravity device.

    And even if and when we do, it will still require enough energy to counteract that 0-100 kph in 2.8 s to float. Any kind of transportation capable of enabling a human being to soar through the air like a bird for hours while running off a mobile phone battery isn't going to happen, now or in the future.

  28. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Oh Dear!

    Ok, so perhaps this thing is not very convenient or safe, it doesn't work so well (if at all), it is utterly impractical, etc., etc.

    But what have any of you, chaps, invented that comes even close to it?

    Must be really easy to criticise others when your arse is permanently stuck on the couch. :-/

  29. noahspurrier

    so very fake

    It's fake. Isn't it obvious that it's fake? It's not even a good fake. He could have at least used a couple vacuum cleaners or leaf blowers to kick up a realistic amount of air turbulence. Did I miss the part of the article that points out that it's fake?

    The guy's clothes aren't even fluttering. There is no dust kicked up by what would have to be a huge downwash from the rotors. Has anyone ever flown a toy helicopter or quadcopter? They kick up a huge amount of dust just to lift a few grams. This board is way too small. There isn't enough surface area to collect enough air to create enough thrust to lift a person.

    I imagine the rider slipping off the board and having it flip upside down and suck itself to the the rider's head.

  30. RobThBay

    Here's a real hoverboad from Canada

    I wonder who the twit is that decided to call those boards with electrically powered wheels a "hoverboard"? The don't hover, they roll around on wheels. Actually they seem to be closer to a BBQ than anything else. :)

    OMG!! You mean there isn't truth in advertising? :)

    You might these interesting...

    Canadian inventor tests new prototype of record-setting hoverboard

    http://www.cbc.ca/news/technology/hoverboard-duru-1.3270569

    and..

    Aerofex hover bike goes on sale in 2017

    http://www.cbc.ca/news/technology/aerofex-hover-bike-goes-on-sale-in-2017-1.2642866

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