In the sci-fi classic Back to the Future II there is this iconic scene
of Marty McFly riding a hoverboard. You know, a skateboard that hovers. People always try to replicate technology from fiction and many have tried building the hoverboard numerous times resulting in several prototypes
Wait what‽ That raises so many questions…
- Is it still a drone if the pilot is controlling it from the vehicle?
- It’s not hovering anymore if it can fly over buildings right?
- What does the FAA classify this as? An ultralight flyer? Manned aircraft?
- Suppose there was a hoverboard that would only hover a maximum of 1ft from ground, would that still be a flying vehicle regulated by the FAA?
- Does it require a pilot’s license? Or will a part-107 exam suffice? But hoverboards are for fun. So, will a TRUST certificate do?
Of course, the questions are partly rhetorical, but they make you think. The
hoverboard was built by YouTuber and inventor Hunter Kowald
. The engineering behind it is certainly impressive -
- Payload capacity : 1 human
- Maintaining stable flight with a heavy human harrumphing up high with the motors below.
- Claimed flight time of 20 minutes. No evidence to back this claim up, so let’s take it with a grain of salt.
Hunter is not the first
to use drone technology to build one of these contraptions, but his stunts seemed to have gathered more attention than before. From a technical view point we see the following:
- Large diameter propellers from Mejzlik
- Motors from T-motor such as this one. (side note: the product listing says “for manned UAV programs”. Oh, the irony!)
- A standard hobby-grade remote control like this one.
The videos on Hunter’s YouTube channel are in line with many YouTube and social media influencers performing stunts for increased view count. Some of these videos seem very dangerous and close to unprotected people. Let’s hope that they do things safely and responsibly before the FAA gets involved.