Marty McFly can thank Lexus for making fiction a reality

By Laura Lane
Updated August 05, 2015 04:45 PM
Credit: Rex USA

Marty McFly’s hoverboard is here. It exists. This is not a drill or a joke or a prank. Back to the Future Part II‘s depiction of a hovering skateboard that – get this – the 1989 film showed existing in 2015 (aka “the future”) has been created by Lexus.

In a video from the automaker, pro skateboarder Ross McGouran is seen giving the board a test ride. And despite a few (okay, a bunch of) falls, McGouran finally got the hang of the hoverboard and began pulling off the kind of tricks that only pro skateboarders and Marty McFly can do, like jumping over cars, riding on water and other insane maneuvers.

“The feeling of literally no friction and floating on air is hard to describe,” says McGouran. “It’s kind of like a science in yourself. You start to break it down. It starts to become less scary, less daunting, more fun.”

So how does this board possibly work?

To create the SLIDE, as it’s called (perhaps “hoverboard” is copyrighted?), Lexus used “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.”

Sounds a little too Dr. Emmett “Doc” Brown for us to understand, but one thing is important to note: The board can only float over magnets, meaning Lexus had to outfit an entire skate park with, well, a whole lot of magnets underneath.

While the hoverboard isn’t for sale, considering Toyota says it began the project just 18 months ago, there’s still hope that everyone can become a McFly sooner rather than later.