Aircraft

Omni Hoverboard takes a super-simple approach to personal flight

Omni Hoverboard takes a super-...
Alexandru Duru, CEO of Omni Hoverboards, running a demonstration flight at a soccer game
Alexandru Duru, CEO of Omni Hoverboards, running a demonstration flight at a soccer game
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Alexandru Duru, CEO of Omni Hoverboards, running a demonstration flight at a soccer game
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Alexandru Duru, CEO of Omni Hoverboards, running a demonstration flight at a soccer game
The Omni board has no self-stabilizing capability; the controls are a simple throttle and your own body balance
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The Omni board has no self-stabilizing capability; the controls are a simple throttle and your own body balance
A consumer version is in the works, but safety and flight regulations will be significant hurdles
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A consumer version is in the works, but safety and flight regulations will be significant hurdles
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Montreal's Alexandru Duru first flew his electric multirotor hoverboard back in 2015, and quickly set a Guinness World Record for distance. Now this levitating madman is working to commercialize it for sale, while performing stunt shows on the side.

This hoverboard is extraordinarily simple. A frame, eight underslung rotors, a pair of snowboarding boots, and a hand throttle that, even six years after Duru's wobbly first flight, is still a modified pair of spring-loaded pliers. "I mean, it's pretty much all you need for the control," Duru told DroneDJ's Scott Simmie in a recent interview. "It's the thrust level."

There's no flight controller per se; this thing isn't even as complex as a DJI drone. An open-source Arduino electronics platform reads the throttle opening and sends instructions to the motor controllers. There's no automatic stabilization, no gyros or accelerometers.

"It's the simplest thing you can imagine," says Duru. "Really. It's your body that does the balance. Our brains can learn so many things, and it learns this as another skill. It's not even that difficult."

With its broad base and eight rotors, perhaps it's even easier to balance than Franky Zapata's jet-powered Flyboard Air – although running on batteries instead of kerosene, it's not going to stay aloft nearly as long. Duru has no chance of grabbing his world hoverboard flight distance back from Zapata, who took Duru's total distance of 275.9 m (905.2 ft) and obliterated it, flying some 2,252.4 m (7,389.8 ft) in 2016.

A consumer version is in the works, but safety and flight regulations will be significant hurdles
A consumer version is in the works, but safety and flight regulations will be significant hurdles

Still, this one runs clean, cool and relatively quiet where the Flyboard Air's thunderous jet turbines scorch the ground. It'll also be very reliable and a ton cheaper when Duru gets it to market, which he's moving towards under the company name Omni Hoverboards.

"I think it's going to be an ultralight in the US," Duru told DroneDJ, "We'll see what happens. I think this is a bit out of the ordinary, and I think it's going to need its own category in the long term."

Of course, anyone thinking about selling personal flight devices must be acutely aware of the potential danger they're putting their customers in, and this is a key stumbling block for Duru.

"Maybe they'll be careful," he says. "I don't know! I'm worried about all these things, putting this in the hands of other people. Maybe we can open this up first to people who are already pilots, or helicopter pilots, who have some experience already and know the risks better. It's very easy to get excited and start thinking yeah, I'll get this thing and go to the grocery store on it! But yeah, the FAA is going to come back to you. So there's a lot of issues in the short term. But I think it's things that we can tackle one way or another."

Indeed, it seems he's already jousting with Canadian flight authorities, who are going after him for failing to request takeoff authorization from air traffic control at Trudeau International Airport, some 24 km (15 miles) away from where he was demonstrating the hoverboard for some kids at the Old Port of Montreal.

The Omni board has no self-stabilizing capability; the controls are a simple throttle and your own body balance
The Omni board has no self-stabilizing capability; the controls are a simple throttle and your own body balance

But he's still determined to make it a product – albeit more of an extreme sports product than an urban transport one. And he's willing to move overseas if Canada plans to block his progress.

"It will turn into a product that's usable for real," he says. "Not just ... You're looking at these guys with jetpacks, and thinking this is great, but this is crazy! I really think that here we have something that's not too crazy."

Looks just the right level of crazy to us. Enjoy some video below, or check out the full interview at DroneDJ.

Hoverboard via aerial drone footage

Source: Omni Hoverboards

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19 comments
19 comments
doc
Before anyone tries to compare it unrealistically to anything. This is a in a niche to its own, you may compare it to the CopterPack, thats it. And its all thats needed because this is an extremely viable product, very simply, very safe you have 8 motors. I imagine they have an FC just for stabilization, they say no accelerometers, gyro ? Regardless it works , it works well and its KISS at its best.

And before the range anxiety crowd comes crashing down, this is not about visiting grandma on the other side of the country. it's about having FUN ! If they can at some stage get 1 - 5 km range that would be awesome, but for now i'd be ok with 500 meters range.

Order link ??

Towerman
The race is ON !
Which will commercialize their product first ?

OMNI hoverboard or CopterPack

Either way my order is IN for both ! (depending on price)
Oirinth
Definitely only for the extreme sports crowd, looks fun but I'll stick to watching the helmet cam footage of those braver/more foolish than me
Brian M
Works in the prefect death zone of altitude! But that applies of course to most of these type of devices

Best (only) used over warm water. Warm as its more pleasant with the frequent dips
piperTom
I'll wait until they take "all the fun" out of it. Add some gyros and accelerometers; add a (redundant) computer controller... when I literally cannot fall off, THEN it's the type of fun I want.
Arcticshade
Nothing foolish about this approach, 8 motors nuff said redundancy for dayzzz.
I'm with the top 2, where's the order button already ???
minivini
My money; take it.
HokenPoke
What frequent dips ? LOL....This platform is absolutely solid, man there's a lot of anxious doomsday preachers out there. 8 motors is redundant aplenty, i'm sure a gyro and accelerometered platform wil be an option easy as pie to implement, but if its not needed, its not NEEDED. The proof is in the pudding, and the pudding tastes wonderful, just look at how stable it flies with 8 motors already for safety.

As to the write up itself, the inventor need to stress that much, motorbikes aren't controlled by manufacturers, yet here they are screaming with blazing fire down the road. It's up to the individual to stay safe, however that must be made clear to them and they must pass some sort of proficiency test like getting a vehicle license.
Edward Vix
Probably not good if the batteries run out or the motors fail whilst up at 20 m.
Iván Imhof
Oh, great. Another device to let the adrenalin addicts make horrible noise in the nature when most people go there to relax and enjoy the silence.