A hoverboard (or hover board) is a fictional levitating board used for personal transportation, first described by author M. K. Joseph in 1967 and popularized by the Back to the Future film franchise. Hoverboards are generally depicted as resembling a skateboard without wheels. During the 1990s there were rumors, fueled by director Robert Zemeckis, that hoverboards were in fact real, but not marketed because they were deemed too dangerous by parents' groups. These rumors have been conclusively debunked. The hoverboard concept has been used by many authors in various forms of media.
Guinness World Records recognizes the term hoverboard to include autonomously powered personal levitators. In May 2015, the Romania-born Canadian inventor Cătălin Alexandru Duru set a Guinness World Record by travelling a distance of 275.9 m (302 yd) at heights up to 5 m (16 ft) over a lake, on an autonomously powered hoverboard of his own design.
On April 30, 2016, Guinness World Records recognized a new record of 2,252.4 m. The Flyboard Air was powered by jet engine propulsion, and its use allowed Franky Zapata, in Sausset-les-Pins, France to beat the previous record by nearly 2 km. Another method of achieving self-levitation is superconductivity, used by the Slide hoverboard.
Several companies have drawn on hovercraft "air-cushion vehicle" technology to attempt to create hoverboard-like products but none has demonstrated similar experiences to the kinds of levitation depicted in science fiction films.
In the 1950s Hiller aircraft produced the "Flying Platform" which was similar to the modern concept of a hoverboard.
The Airboard air-cushion vehicle was unveiled in the 2000 Summer Olympics Opening Ceremony in Sydney, which was manufactured and sold by Arbortech Industries Limited.Series II was unveiled in 2007.
Rumors circulated in 2001 that inventor Dean Kamen's new invention, codenamed Ginger, was a transportation device resembling a hoverboard. In reality Ginger was the Segway Human Transporter, a self-balancing two-wheeled electric transportation device.
In 2004, Jamie Hyneman and his team built a makeshift hovercraft for MythBusters, dubbed the Hyneman Hoverboard, from a surfboard and leafblower. However, Jamie's hoverboard was not very effective.
In 2005, Jason Bradbury created a "hoverboard" for The Gadget Show, using a wooden board that was levitated by means of a leafblower. The original design was not propelled and could also not be steered. In 2009, a second version was made which was propelled/steered by a small jet engine (rather than a fan as with an air boat), and also contained 2 (more powerful) leafblowers.
In 2011, French artist Nils Guadagnin created a hovering board that floats by magnetic repulsion between it and its base but cannot carry a load. The board includes a laser system which ensures stabilization, in addition to an electromagnetic system which makes the levitation possible.
In October 2011, the Université Paris Diderot in France presented the "Mag surf", a superconducting device which levitates 3 cm (1.2 in) above two magnetized repulsing floor rails and can carry up to 100 kg (220 lb).
In March 2014, a company called HUVr claimed to have developed the technology for hoverboards, and released a video advertising the product on YouTube featuring Christopher Lloyd, Tony Hawk, Moby, Terrell Owens, and others riding hoverboards through a parking lot in Los Angeles. Special effect failures such as incomplete wire removal have conclusively identified the video as a hoax or joke, traced to the Funny or Die website through identification of the cast and public references to the project. Funny or Die later posted a video featuring Christopher Lloyd "apologizing" for the hoax.
In October 2014, American inventor Greg Henderson demonstrated a prototype hoverboard working on a magnetic levitation principle. Similar to maglev trains, the hoverboard requires a surface of non-ferromagnetic metal such as copper or aluminum to function, carrying up to 140 kg (300 lb) while hovering 2.5 cm (1 in) above the surface. Four engines were used to power the magnetic levitation, with the option of applying thrust and spin to the board under user control. The prototype was promoted in a campaign on Kickstarterthe day of the news coverage, with a price of $10,000 for the first ten boards. The New York Times said that although the board worked, Greg Henderson had no personal interest in skateboarding and that the Kickstarter was "basically a publicity stunt," designed to call attention to his California-based company, Arx Pax Labs, Inc.'s, Magnetic Field Architecture (MFA), which Henderson was more interested in using for other applications,as an emergency maglev mechanism capable of separating buildings from the earth to protect them from earthquakes and floods. Henderson was quoted as saying, "That's why we picked the hoverboard: to capture that attention. If one in 10 people realize there is another use for this stuff, that would be a great success." Henderson and his team are currently developing the SAFE Building System, a sustainable way to build in flood zones and coastal areas. It is designed to float buildings, roadways, and utilities in a few feet of water.
In May, 2015, Guinness World Records announced that the Romania-born Canadian inventor Cătălin Alexandru Duru had set a new record for continuous travel as a controlling pilot on an autonomously powered hoverboard, travelling over a distance of 275.9 m (302 yd) at heights up to 5 m (16 ft) over Lake Ouareau in the province of Quebec, Canada. Video of the flight leading to a controlled splash-down is offered. Duru had designed and constructed the hoverboard himself over the course of a year. Its lift is generated by propellers, and the pilot controls the craft with his feet.
On 24 June 2015, Lexus released a video as part of their "Amazing in Motion" series purporting to show a real hoverboard they had developed, the Slide. It was stated by Lexus that the board worked using liquid-nitrogen-cooled superconductors and permanent magnets. The board was shown moving over a conventional looking concrete skateboard park surface, which led to some skepticism. Lexus apparently later admitted that it only works on special metallic surfaces and the surface shown was not just concrete. On August 4, 2015, Lexus revealed all the secrets of the Slide hoverboard with a promotional campaign, filmed in Barcelona and starring Ross McGouran, a professional London skateboarder. Lexus released a series of videos explaining the technology and the whole engineering, research, and development process in association with all its partners.
On 24 December 2015, ARCA Space Corporation claimed it developed a hoverboard named ArcaBoard, and the batteries can provide energy enough for six minutes of hovering. The hoverboard uses powerful fans.
In April 2016, jet powered Flyboard Air hoverboard broke the Guinness World Record for farthest flight by hoverboard, flying 2,252.4 meters.