2015 was literally and figuratively the year of the hoverboard. While everyone was talking about the self-balancing scooters, two companies showed off skateboard-shaped boards that actually hovered a few inches above the Earth: Lexus with the "Slide" board, and Arx Pax with its second generation Hendo Hoverboard. Now, just days before the new year, another company called ArcaSpace is taking a shot at making the mythical hoverboard.
ArcaSpace is primarily a private space company, and one of the original 26 teams that competed in the Ansari X Prize competition in 2004. (It also entered the Lunar X Prize competition, too, before pulling out in 2013.) But early this morning the company released a video that shows off the "ArcaBoard," a fan-powered rectangle that can lift a person off the ground by almost a foot.
It doesn't look easy to ride, but it definitely flies
The ArcaBoard gets its power — 430 pounds of thrust, or 272 horsepower, according to the company — from 36 electric fans. The company also says its built in some self-balancing tech to make it fly smoothly. Beyond that, though, it doesn't look like there's much to the experience. Dumitru Popescu, ArcaSpace's CEO, is seen riding it in the video, but it doesn't look like he has much control over where it's going. It's actually pretty reminiscent of the Hendo Hoverboard videos — sure, it hovers, but you can't really steer it enough to ever use it to get anywhere.
ArcaSpace isn't shy about its ambitions for the ArcaBoard on the company's website. "For the first time since the bicycle, automobile or airplane, the ArcaBoard is a revolutionary breakthrough for transportation," it reads. "For the first time, every person will be able to fly anytime, anywhere. The world, your world, will change forever."
The accompanying video is also blindly serious, setting footage of the board in action and graphics that show how it was built against a backdrop of echoey piano. The company's public relations manager and chief operating officer both join Popescu in testifying about the revolutionary accomplishment.
The ArcaBoard is cool, but don't expect to ride it
ArcaSpace's hoverboard appears to have little purpose beyond marketing, much like the case was with Arx Pax and Lexus. The short video is too serious to be taken seriously, and the $19,900 price tag is so high that you have to wonder why they even bothered to list it.
Popescu basically admits this by the end of the video. "I've always wanted to create a commercially available product for the masses," he says. "But the creation of this truly revolutionary product proves that Arca is not only able to create amazing technologies, but is actually engineering the future."
At a very base level, what ArcaSpace has done here is cool. The company found a way to make something you can call a hoverboard with a level of legitimacy, and unlike Lexus or Arx Pax, it doesn't require a track or special surface. The technological challenge of getting 36 fans to work in tandem without something going completely haywire is admirable, too. But while this is the third working version we've seen this year, it looks like the immediate future of the hoverboard is still grounded.
We rode the Lexus hoverboard in Spain It's kinda real