For decades now we've been teased with hoverboard concepts, either from science fiction or highly limited real-life versions, but now aerospace company Arca is taking orders for what it claims is the real deal. The ArcaBoard appears to be the closest thing to the technology from Back to the Future: Part II that we've seen so far.
Unlike the unicycle-skateboard combination that calls itself Hoverboard or the magnet-powered hoverboards created by Hendo and Lexus, ArcaBoard is said to actually hover and cruise up to a foot over any surface, be it concrete, sand or even water.
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There's reason to believe the ArcaBoard is for real, unlike the HUVr hoax from 2014 that Christopher Lloyd and Tony Hawk perpetrated on us. First off, Arca started as a Romanian NGO and was awarded contracts for work on stratospheric rockets and balloons by the Romanian government and the European Space Agency. Since then, the company participated in the Google Lunar X Prize, released high-end drones and has recently relocated to the US, where it announced the release of the ArcaBoard on Christmas Eve.
Besides the company's track record, ArcaBoard is also believable because its specs aren't exactly too good to be true.
To create enough lift, the board is packed with 36 high-power electric ducted fans creating up to 272 horsepower and 430 lb (1913 N) of thrust. The batteries that provide the juice for all that power last a maximum of six minutes on the lightweight version and three minutes on the ArcaBoard designed for heavier riders.
So this isn't exactly the right vehicle for commuting just yet, especially when you consider that top speed is limited to 20 km/h (12.5 mph).
The ArcaBoard can reportedly be controlled with the rider's body or via a Bluetooth-connected iOS or Android app that activates a stabilization system and relays navigation commands via hand movements.
The board itself looks something like a giant, clunky skateboard built from composite materials, measuring 145 x 76 x 15 cm (57 x 30 x 6 inches). Don't expect to be popping an ArcaBoard in your backpack a la Marty McFly, either, as it weighs 82 kg (180 lb) on its own. Chris Lang, the company's Chief Operating Officer, tells Gizmag that it could be carried by two people.
Despite having a range per charge of only 2 km (or a little over a mile), the ArcaBoard will set you back more than some cars, with a starting retail price of US$19,900. It requires six hours to recharge the board with a regular outlet, but if you purchase the ArcaDock rapid charging accessory for another $4,500, you can reportedly have it up and hovering again in just 35 minutes.
Hey, we never said it would be cheap to be one of the coolest early adopters in your neighborhood.
Arca is taking orders now for both versions of the ArcaBoard and the ArcaDock, with delivery expected in April 2016. "We have made two complete units," Lang tells us. "One green and one beige. The third is blue, and is under construction."
We'll be watching this one with interest.
The board can (apparently) be seen in action, in the video below.