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Forget About Those Flammable Hoverboards, ARCA Has Come Up with the Real Deal

You may have never heard of ARCA, but that isn’t because the company hasn’t been keeping itself busy lately: during its 17-year-long history, ARCA has created and launched many aerospace vehicles, with the declared ultimate goal of “deep space exploration.”
ArcaBoard in action 1 photo
After starting off in Romania, the home-country of Dumitru Popescu, the company’s CEO, ARCA moved to Las Cruces, New Mexico, in 2014. The company was involved in two X Prize competitions, managed to build the world’s largest solar balloon, then built an even larger one, got a rocket into the stratosphere with the help of a helium balloon, and is now busy developing a drone and two manned rockets designed for orbital and sub-orbital commercial flights.

The drone is called AirStrato and looks very much like a military predator device, except when it’s painted in bright yellow, red or blue. Then, it looks like a giant toy. However, with prices starting from $80,000 (for a preorder), it is impossibly accessible compared to the four million tag attached to the Predator. The control station costs $15,000 extra, but it looks like it's worth the money and allows complete control over the AirStrato via a satellite uplink.

But as impressive as all these things are, the real reason we’re here is the ArcaBoard, a real-life hoverboard that will give your Green Goblin Halloween costume a whole new meaning.

This boxy thing actually works, and it already has a price for all those interested. It costs $19,900 plus $4,500 for the wireless charging station that will get it ready in just 35 minutes (as opposed to 9 hours, the time taken by a conventional power socket). But what exactly do you get for the same money that could get you a pretty good small car?

Well, the ArcaBoard is made up of 36 high power electric ducted fans giving 272 horsepower and a maximum thrust of 200 kg (430 lbs). It is powerful enough to keep going even if more than one fan would - for some reason - give up, and thanks to an internal stabilization unit, its balance won’t be affected either.

The ArcaBoard is controlled wirelessly through a smartphone app, but for those who like their cars manual, it can have its stabilization feature turned off and navigate based on the user’s body movement.

The video shows Mr. Popescu learning to surf an invisible wave, and if we’re to be honest, is less than impressive - you know, apart from the fact that a man is flying on top of a box. What everyone’s asking themselves by now is how high this thing can fly, how fast it can go and for how long it can keep at it?

Considering your feet are as free as on a skateboard, it won’t go neither too high, nor too fast, but just get it out on the market and some bright minds will find a way to hack it - or “tune it,” if you prefer. The factory settings allow it to climb up to 30 cm (one foot) and travel as fast as 20 km/h (12.5 mph) for up to 6 minutes.

The idea of a real (and we can’t emphasize this word enough) hoverboard is indeed very attractive, but we’d wait a little longer until more information is available on the ArcaBoard before jumping in with our money. In fact, what this thing needs now is a third-party review. If it gets through that, then the only thing that could still be holding us back is the price.


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