It’s 2015, the year envisioned in the 1989 time-traveling movie Back to the Future II, so naturally inventors are racing to create a working version of that film’s most iconic gadget, Marty McFly’s hoverboard.
Reaction was swift to a new commercial released by the carmaker Lexus, offering a peak at a hoverboard it is developing. According to the Lexus website, the hoverboard uses “liquid-nitrogen-cooled superconductors and permanent magnets” that allow for what it calls “magnetic levitation.”
But before you start planning your cross-country hoverboard trip, a caveat: Like previous hoverboard technology, Lexus’s hoverboard only works on a special track that allows for the electromagnetism (not in a skatepark like the one pictured in the commercial).
“Under the track there is a steel rail and [the hoverboard] uses that to float over that track,” Maurice Durand, a Lexus spokeswoman, explains to Quartz. “It looks like it can go anywhere, but it really can’t.”
Lexus developed the hoverboard prototype as part of a global ad campaign that Durand says is meant “to tantalize people with an exciting bit of pop culture.” And while the video shows hoverboard technology that Lexus says it is working on, it is not at the point where you can order one off of Amazon anytime soon. “You can buy a hoverboard, but someone would have to install the steel rails underneath,” Durand says jokingly.
Still, it’s an indication that engineers are working overtime to bring about a future where we don’t need roads. (video)