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Age of pre-hoverboards: robotics grads electrify skateboard

The hoverboard is finally being developed off-screen (though the prototype’s reliance on magnets means it’s not currently a transport solution), but there are boards on the market right now that nearly float up hill. Electric skateboards are piggybacking on the battery tech of electric cars to provide a powerful ride for even San Francisco style hills.

The founders of Boosted Boards (one of several electric skateboard startups) was founded by three robotics graduate students who wanted to get around the sprawling Stanford campus faster than their longboards could take them. They began to tinker with “really powerful motors for robotics”, were eventually mentored by a Tesla engineer and opened up shop in Silicon Valley to take advantage of the local EV tech.

The boards aren’t meant to replace skateboards, but the Boosted founders see them as an alternative to the car. “We know that most of our trips are under five miles so we know that a vehicle like this is going to be fine for most of these trips,” explains Boosted founder Matthew Tran. “The biggest advantage at this point is that it’s portable. In the city a lot of times I want to get around on CalTrain or a bus or just jump into an Uber and I can carry this board with me to any of those places.”

The boards are controlled by a Bluetooth handset, can reach speeds of 22 miles per hour, run 7 miles on a charge (1.5 hour recharge time), provide regenerative braking and weigh 13.5 to 15 pounds (depending on the model).

* Thanks to Betabrand for the drone footage of the ride through San Francisco.