Is this the working hoverboard we've been waiting for?

The ArcaBoard just barely meets the "Back to the Future: Part II" deadline with a late 2015 announcement showing the hoverboard truly hovering.

Amanda Kooser
Freelance writer Amanda C. Kooser covers gadgets and tech news with a twist for CNET. When not wallowing in weird gear and iPad apps for cats, she can be found tinkering with her 1956 DeSoto.
Amanda Kooser
3 min read
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The ArcaBoard caught in mid-hover.

Arca Space Corporation

Did someone order a hoverboard? Here's a big green fan-powered rectangle that may satisfy your desires. It's called the ArcaBoard and it's for sale.

The hoverboard comes from Arca Space Corporation, a company specialized in aerospace vehicles for private space flight. The board is powered by a set of batteries running 36 electric ducted fans. The contraption packs 272 horsepower and hovers at about a foot above the ground.

The ArcaBoard manages a flight time of up to 6 minutes for riders weighing a maximum of 176 pounds (80 kilograms). A version for heavier riders weighing up to 243 pounds (110 kilograms) can get about 3 minutes of hover time. Sensors limit the board to a 12.5 mph (20 kmh) top speed.

'Back to the Future' gear for right now (pictures)

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Arca unveiled the board last week, just barely squeezing the announcement into 2015. The timing may seem a little odd with so many people distracted by the holiday season, but Arca may have wanted to slim into the same year as the hoverboard appeared in "Back to the Future: Part II." The dream of Marty McFly's flying skateboard is a big part of why so many people have hoverboard fever.

We can argue about hoverboards quite a bit. Do self-balancing scooters with two wheels count as hoverboards? No. They don't hover. How about the Lexus Slide or the Hendo? They won't work just anywhere, but require special surfaces to function. That's disappointing. At least Mr Hoverboard is relatively affordable and works with common leaf blowers. It is a bit noisy and won't be accused of being sleek like Marty's ride.

At least the ArcaBoard ticks off the boxes of working over most surfaces (including rocky terrain and water) and actually hovering. It's still too big and, at $19,900 (about £13,350, AU$27,390), it will put a dent in your wallet. A healthy chunk of that price involves the cost of the batteries. Arca says a replacement battery array will run $6,840 (about £4,590, AU$9,400).

So-called hoverboards have been in the news lately after some two-wheeled scooters caught fire due to issues with their lithium-ion batteries. Arca addresses this concern with an answer to a FAQ question about whether the ArcaBoard batteries overheat: "The batteries are one of the best quality available on the market, used by ARCA for its aerospace vehicles. We never had a single problem with overheating batteries during a 10 years usage for this type." Built-in sensors monitor the battery temperature and warn the rider if they detect an unusual rise in heat.

Arca says orders will start shipping in April of 2016. The company already lists spare parts for sale on its website, including electric ducted fans, batteries, controllers and a stabilization system.

We've been teased by hoverboard hoaxes in the past, including the HUVr prank from 2014. Arca, however, has a track record as an aerospace company and the test footage of the ArcaBoard doesn't look doctored. One thing we don't know is what the gadget sounds like. Those fans probably emit some noise. We can expect a real verdict on the device once it actually makes it into buyers' hands. Until then, a mix of both wonder and a little skepticism is called for.

Hoverboard technology will most likely slowly float along, becoming more compact and sophisticated as the years go by. That could make the ArcaBoard the equivalent of those massive '80s cell phones the size of bricks. One day, when we're all zipping around on our slim, skateboard-sized hoverboards, we'll look back on the original ArcaBoard with a delightful twinge of nostalgia.