The Airboard claims to be the first commercially-marketed single-person
In the movie Back to the Future: Part II Marty McFly (Michael J. Fox)
is being chased by a gang of hooligans on
hoverboards. These hoverboards
look like flying skateboards that have some kind of magnetic propulsion
system. They don't look like conventional hovercraft at all, but the
hovercraft depicted in that movie served as an inspiration to Kevin
Inkster, who has invented the Airboard.
The Airboard operates just like any other hovercraft, which is basically
a vehicle that is supported and propelled by a cushion of air. In the
opening ceremonies of the 2000 Summer Olympics, Inkster showed off his
space-age looking Airboard by riding it around the Olympic stadium.
How it's built
The Airboard is just a small version of a conventional hovercraft that
is ridden standing up. It uses the same air cushion principles to glide
just above the ground. However, there are some differences; for instance,
the Airboard is unable to hover over water like the hovercraft, and
it uses a drive wheel, which touches the ground, to accelerate.
Shell - The fiberglass platform used for the rider to stand on
Engine and fan - Suspended under the shell to provide the air cushion
Rubber skirt - Used to form an air cushion under the vehicle
Friction drive wheel - A wheel that comes into contact with the ground
to provide added acceleration
Handlebar - Includes two control levers, one for engine/fan speed and
one for the friction drive clutch
Diameter: 1.6 m (6 ft 3 in)
Height incl. handle: 1.2 m (4 ft 0 in)
Deck height: 30 cm (1ft 0 ins)
Control & Performance
Top speed asphalt: 25 km/h (15 mph) subject to conditions
Incline/ascent: 30 degrees
Fuel: 5 liter (1.3 US gal) gasoline (85 Octane unleaded)
Total payload, including rider: 120 kg (220 lb)
Operating time: 1 h on full tank
Controlling the Airboard
The fan underneath the shell of the vehicle provides both the cushion
of air and the stream of air that exits through the back of the vehicle
to provide thrust. To accelerate, the rider shifts his or her weight
forward to allow more air to exit the back of the vehicle. By shifting
backward, the rider activates a drive wheel, which actually contacts
the ground to move the Airboard forward.
The rider controls the Airboard by shifting their weight from side-to-side,
similar to how one would ride a skateboard or surfboard. By varying
the amount of weight transfer, the driver can make sharp or soft turns.
Sliding and 360-degree turns are also possible.
In order to stop, the rider lets off of the accelerometer, at which
point the board will drift to a stop due to friction.
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