The Slide (stylized SLIDE) is a hoverboard developed by Lexus. The board has 32 Yttrium-Barium-Copper Oxide superconductors cooled by liquid nitrogen and rides on a magnetic track. Lexus built a skate park in Barcelona, Spain specifically for the SLIDE. The SLIDE was built for the scientific achievement, not for public sale.
The overall project for the SLIDE hoverboard took Lexus about 57 weeks from start to finish. The SLIDE was teased in June and officially revealed August 5, 2015. The SLIDE is the fourth installment of the 'Amazing in Motion' campaign, which is Lexus's promotional campaign to use innovative technology to advance their brand; other projects from the 'Amazing in Motion' campaign include: an android used to mimic realistic movement, a swarm of choreographed quadcopters, and a series of strobe lit mannequins. Lexus partnered with outside technology experts to aid in the creation of the SLIDE; Dietmar Berger, a magnetic levitation engineer, and Ludwig Schultz, a pioneer of superconducting levitation, were the main experts responsible for the hovering of the SLIDE hoverboard. Professional skateboarder Ross McGouran was the main rider of the SLIDE for prototype testing and also promotional riding as well.
The main focus of the SLIDE is in the levitation of the hoverboard. The levitation is achieved through the use of superconductors inside the board. Superconductors are conductors that have no internal resistance as long as they are kept below a certain temperature. When a metal has no internal resistance, that means with a current running through the metal, the current will run forever without a power source. When a superconductor is subjected to a magnetic field, essentially the superconductor aligns itself with the magnetic field and floats on top of it. The magnetic field in which the SLIDE will ride on has a magnetic pole of two south poles on the ends with a north pole in the middle. Generally with magnetic fields, the direction goes from north pole to south pole, so to simplify, the magnetic field created for the SLIDE pushes upwards in the middle and outwards equally split in both directions of the board keeping it levitating. The SLIDE maintains a hover height of about 1 to 2 inches above ground and can support about 440 pounds in weight. Superconductors only have their no internal resistance property when cooled to a certain temperature. In order to achieve this the SLIDE uses liquid nitrogen to cool it down to -197° Celsius. Even though liquid nitrogen cools down the superconductors of the SLIDE, it also boils at -197° Celsius. Because of this, it is difficult to have a constant supply of liquid nitrogen to continually cool down the superconductors, this is why the SLIDE can go for an average of 20 minutes on maximum liquid nitrogen capacity. Ross McGouran managed to get a maximum ride time of 30 minutes.
The track built by Lexus for the SLIDE project resides in Cubelles, Barcelona, Spain. The entire skate park has magnetic tracks hidden under a thin layer of wood covering. The magnetic track pulls the SLIDE along the path, it isn't pushed like a normal skateboard would. All the uphill and downhill slopes of the track have been specifically measured to make sure the magnetic field has enough momentum to pull the SLIDE.
The SLIDE board itself is made of natural bamboo and carbon fibre support structures. The superconductors the SLIDE uses are composed of yttrium, barium, copper, and oxygen. The combined weight of all the components of the board is about 25.4 pounds(11.5kg). The board length comes out to be 29.5 inches.
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- "Are you ready for the future? Lexus to unveil its Slide hoverboard August 5". Digital Trends. Retrieved 2015-11-11.