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 between a conventional hovercraft and the Airboard. For instance, the Airboard is unable to hover over water like other hovercraft, and it uses a drive wheel, which touches the ground, to accelerate. Here's a look at all of the components that make up the Airboard:
- Engine and fan - Suspended under the Airboard shell to provide the air cushion and thrust
- Airboard shell - The fiberglass platform used for the rider to stand on
- 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
The fan underneath the shell of the vehicle provides both a cushion of air and a 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 will activate the drive wheel. The drive wheel actually contacts the ground to move the Airboard forward. Conventional hovercraft don't use any type of a drive wheel.
Controlling the Airboard is done by shifting your weight from side-to-side, similar to how you would ride a skateboard or surfboard. By varying the amount of weight transfer, the driver can make the vehicle turn sharply or softly. Sliding and 360-degree turns are also possible. To ensure the best steering performance, riders are recommended to be at least 5 feet (1.3 m) tall and about 14 years old. Airboard's developers believe young adults have the sufficient amount of weight to safely control the vehicle.
The Airboard should be ridden on level ground, but can glide over many surfaces, including grass, concrete, asphalt and packed dense materials such as salt pans. The developers say it shouldn't be ridden over loose or littered surfaces, where debris could be lifted into the air stream. And, while it can ride over wet surfaces, it cannot ride over bodies of water because of its limited air-generating capacity.
In traditional hovercraft, drivers simply stop the engine and the vehicle slowly comes to a rest. This new hoverboard vehicle works the same way. In order to stop, you simply release the levers on the handlebar, at which point it will slide to a stop. Leave yourself a few meters to stop. It's also possible to stop faster by using a sliding turn.
Arbortech says that the Airboard will only be available in select locations at first. Initially, you will find these devices at theme parks.
For more information on hoverboards, the Airboard and related topics, check out the links on the next page!