An Actual Working Hoverboard

What with 2015 being the apparent “year of the hoverboard”, we have a final contender before the year ends. It’s called the ArcaBoard from ArcaSpace, A private space company. And it doesn’t use magnets, or superconductors, or any smoke and mirrors — just a whole lot of ducted fans.

Thirty-six of them to be precise. The ArcaBoard uses 36 electric motors with an apparent 7.55HP each, powered by a massive bank of lithium ion batteries. Together, they produce 430 pounds of thrust, which allows most riders to float around quite easily. Even with that huge power drain, it apparently lasts for a whole 20 minutes, which is pretty impressive considering its size.

Apparently, it’ll be available for purchase this spring. It only costs $19,900. We can’t tell if they’re being serious or not. It most definitely works, but we’d like to see some demonstrations of people actually going somewhere on it first — most of the clips in the following video just show them floating around in place… if you want to do that, make yourself a leaf-blower hoverboard!

That being said, we’re totally impressed they followed through with this idea, and actually built a working product. Apparently the idea to make a hoverboard was suggested by the COO’s son. The CEO heard this and said yeah, we can totally do that! So they did.

It is a bit bigger than the Lexus hoverboard, but at least you don’t need a special track to ride it on.

79 thoughts on “An Actual Working Hoverboard

  1. Impressive engineering for sure, but I must say that my dreams don’t include moving down the road at 1-2 km/hr. :-) The company would be better served if they cut back a bit on the self-importance and grandiose factor in their marketing (“dreams”, “flying”, “freedom”, …) and focused more on the engineering or fun aspects of the product.

      1. Unless you’ve got Power! haha. But yea, that thing has a lot of it. 271.8 HP of it!
        Besides the video says it can fly over water…. (I call it fake until I see one… F* people, you can’t believe anything now a days <.< )

  2. Can someone please explain why you need so many motors?… 7.55 HP x 36 Motors = 271.8 HP (~202,681 Watts)…. Ummm…. Wouldn’t you only need 1 of those motors to lift a person? 7.55 HP is a lot! in Advanced Thank you.

    By the way, a response to “jacobchrist”, If you watch the video, yes, they say it can fly on water xD

    1. Because you need to not only lift the weight of the motor, but the weight of the batteries, the weight of the structure, and the weight of the rider. And then you want at least a few minutes of flight time, so the batteries get bigger, and heavier.
      Did you ever see the episode of Mythbusters where they (tried) to build a flying machine with a 250HP engine (I don’t remember exactly) and two big ducted fans? They couldn’t get enough lift.

      1. Thank you for the answer. I know it has to lift all that also. But wow, so much power. However this Helicopter ( http://www.robinsonheli.com/rhc_r22_beta_ii.html ) uses a 145 HP motor..And I’m certain that the helicopter weighs A LOT more then the hover board, granted, the physics might not be the same… I wonder if they add a skirt to the board to create an air cushion, they could lower the power usage.

        I don’t know, but I think this is fake until I see one xD

        Nah in my country, they pass that show translated, it’s a real piece of… I stopped watching it, too many commercials also, 10 min of show per 15 min of advertisement bleh Discovery sucks xD. And when they aired it in open national TV channel… They couldn’t get a worst idea then to put 2 reporters with absolutely no scientific knowledge to comment every experiment they did, it gives you “secondhand embarrassment” to hear them . Besides, MythBusters is for entertainment, they can get things wrong, after all, they don’t have all the time in the world to make a good experiment.

          1. Yep but they don’t turn round by themselves. Bigger rotor = bigger engine. Sure, with a bigger rotor the ends are moving much faster. But it’s all about engine power. The more air it’s pushing, the harder it is to turn. Smaller ones might be less efficient, though I don’t know how much.

            If that’s so much of a problem, why don’t these chaps use fewer, bigger, fans? Maybe some creative ducting if necessary, although of course ducting slows down air, creates friction and whatever else.

            I wonder how much research they’ve done? For a prototype I can understand sticking a load of fans in a box, but you’d hope they’d try to find the best way of doing it.

            For increased forward speed, put a couple more fans on the back. If it’s supposed to transport people, rather than just stunts, it’d be worth the energy expenditure.

    2. Keeping a person in the air requires about 1kW of power…. Under a paraglider.

      Good efficient props allow for about 70% efficiency. A good motor 80-90% (the 90+ they claim is always at “best efficiency”. That happens when you run the motor at way lower power than rated.), and an ESC similar, I’d guess. So you’re at around 2kW of electrical power required. These guys are around 100 times less efficient? Hmm.

    1. That must be one brave (or clueless) woman – having TWO of those big-ass blade sets whirl around that fast above you in a configuration that basically WANTS to pull and crash them together the moment they stop tilting away from each other hard enough, is just asking to get on FailArmy (possibly with parts of your head missing). People whine about even smallish quadcopters having dangerous blades but these are the real deal…

  3. Wouldn’t just a “skirt” like the ones on hovercrafts reduce the need of airflow and power a lot? Basically make a one-man stand-on digitally controlled hovercraft and call it a hoverboard?

    1. Dunno. But if it did you’d be limited in how high you can fly, that might be important. Also would spoil the look, coolness and novelty is a big part of a hoverboard, it’s 95% of the reason you might spend 20 grand on it. It’s not really intended as a practical mode of transport.

      1. Actually I’d guess, in a traditional hovercraft, the skirt is there more for stability, to give a smooth ride by averaging out the airflow, like a big air capacitor. Also stops the thing sinking immediately if power fails over water. Ride smoothness isn’t a big issue for skateboarders, including hovering ones.

    2. I think it would improve it a lot, the most important thing on hovercraft is the pressure under the skirt, and this will improve with a smaller gap between floor and skirt.
      My brother recently built one for a shool project, he could lift about 8kg with an 360W bldc, and the propeller from an leafblower…

    1. Yup. Also youtube comment on the vid you linked to:
      “+Markku Hänninen Look up the “Taiwan Tornado ducted fan” on Google Images. They are enclosed fan motors smaller than anything else available. You only need about twenty of the biggest fans to lift a person. Only 5″ round and you could fit a hundred in a surfboard size base. Why don’t they do it? The ducted fans are not as efficient and use double the power, that’s why. But you can fit so many in a really small space. I thought about it and it would be really small, but the batteries would not last long enough. lol Estimated cost to make one…30 grand.”

    1. I think many people could do this, but the vast majority of people also realize that it is pretty silly and therefore don’t. What is this product really good for? It is dangerous, has too low a flight time for it to be used as transport, and it makes a hell of a racket. The bottom line is the same as pretty much every other hoverboard we’ve seen so far: Hoverboards are actually not a good idea, at all.

  4. for a helicopter, work on the figure of 1W/kilogram of helicopter
    this is taking into account transmission losses for the main rotor and tail rotor,
    it is a good starting point for any rotary wing aircraft.
    when you start looking at dual, tandem and co-axial rotor craft it goes down a bit, but not by much.

    ever since I saw that skid steer, LiPo powered mower at Little Hampton (and yes, I did pounce on it with my multi=tool and started taking covers off) I’ve wanted to build a tri or quad copter I could sit in/on

  5. It looks to me like it relies on ground effect (or something related to it, perhaps Venturi or Bernoulli effects) to simply create an air cushion under the board by sheer brute force. But I seriously doubt that this would work on water. It would simply push the water aside and sink. Once the fans begin sucking in water it’s all over.

    1. I got the idea it just blows air downward. Ground effect is different, sortof like how an aeroplane wing works. It only works when you’re travelling forward at a high enough speed.

      1. I thought ground effect was just blowing air at the ground for lift as opposed to blowing it at the atmosphere. Ground effect drastically decreases power requirements. Its why helicopters can take off the ground easily but need much more power to actually ascend.

    2. I suppose it depends on the height above the water…the higher above the surface it hovers, the better chance it has of not “tunneling” as you suggest. It does appear there is some adjustment available in height (someone off-camera controlling that perhaps?) so maybe it’s possible. They should have enough thrust to get out of ground effect.

  6. Put some skirts on it and you have a hoovercraft. Because the air can’t escape, a lot less power is needed. Since that thing can’t take off anyway, I see no reason why it is any cooler than a plain old hoovercraft that kids can build from old lawnmover engines or leafblowers.

  7. This is the stupidest implementation of a hoverboard ever, by far.
    Ducted fans are meant for pushing air really fast, but they do not generate much pressure. Also, 40 motors is WAY past redundancy, it’s better to have less motors but bigger, as they are more eficient at pushing lots of air “slowly” than many small ones.

    1. The size of the motors does let them shape it how they want.

      But you’re right. Optimal would be a few big EDFs and some small ones to fill the gaps. In theory, a fractal would be ideal, but I don’t think they make MEMS EDFs.

  8. Nobody has mentioned how you balance the thing or how it is controlled. From the video, I get the impression that it is extremely difficult to balance. I did not see any means to control the speed of the motors, so it appears that they just run full blast all the time. That would make the hover height fixed. This thing could not touch Marty McFly.

  9. No real footage of it doing anything useful, so the video is one step below a fraud. Notice that they haven’t even got stabilisation worked out? I bet there is no PWM or similar controllers on the thing at all, just dump the power to all the fans and hope the rider can keep the thing under control. As with most vehicles it would need registration and the rider to have a licence (if it actually worked, LOL) because most laws are based on the power of the vehicle’s engine/s.

  10. I think it’s time the Hackaday community set forth some qualifications for when it is acceptable to use the phrase “actual working” in a title so that articles like this would get titled as “another attempt at a working hoverboard” instead.

    1. I was thinking the same thing. The EDFs are grouped into 4 quadrants. You just need to wire up the ESCs with some buffer chips and route the 4 “Channels” to any basic flight controller. Heck, if they had even done even just that it probably would have been more stable.

      This thing is a sad excuse for a PR stunt. Anyone who has built their own multi-rotor could top this if they had a few thousand to burn on parts.

  11. Looks like a kickstarter video, the way they talk about it beeing the future and all.
    Anyway, pretty sweet, but come back (with a more normal price aswell) when they have added control fans on the side, so you can actually properly control the thing

  12. * YAWN * My bicycle gives me quite a bit of freedom. I’m doubting what freedoms a stand-on hoverboard would give me. It looks fatiguing. On a bike, at least I can sit, and it’s quiet. Maybe the next thing for the hoverboard should be a seat and handle bars.

  13. What about adding a couple of fans on the back for propulsion and foward movement, or adding stick like control similar to a segway. Seems they only solved the lifting up from the ground part but forgot about actually going anywhere…

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