How Do Hoverboards Work: Self-balancing Technology

How do Hoverboards Work

Have you ever wondered about how hoverboards work? I know you did if you know what we are talking about here. However, if you don’t then let me give you a quick idea about what a hoverboard is. It’s a two-wheeled electric ride where the balance is maintained between the front and back end of the ride, unlike bikes (in bikes side to side balance is maintained). The actual name of this ride is “Self-balancing Scooter” but as “Hoverboard” sounds pretty cool so people call it by that.

Now I’m not gonna lie to you. The first time I saw hoverboards, what popped in my mind is how this thing maintains the balance. Come on it’s not like a bike where the rider maintains the balance. It’s the technology here which does it! Brace yourself there because I’m gonna explain this now.

The Magic Balance

Balance

A couple of hoverboard components come at play when it comes to the balancing part. To get a hold of it first we need to recap some of the high school science.

Center of Gravity

I’m not gonna be the school teacher here. So I’ll not talk about all those stuff from the science book. Let’s get it through by an easy example. If I ask you to lift a log and put it in your shoulder, which part of the log should you put in the shoulder? Yeah, I’m sure you’ll put the middle one. But, do you know why? Well surely it’s because the center of gravity is in the middle of the log, hence it’s easy to carry it through that point.

To simply put the center of gravity of an object is the point where the weight is evenly distributed around. Every single thing that has weight also has a center of gravity. Similarly we humans also do have this and amazingly it’s not fixed. It changes with body movement.

So when you are on a hoverboard your center of gravity is there. You lean forward or backward and the center of gravity changes. Hoverboards have this technology to detect this and counteract this so that you don’t topple over.

How Hoverboards Work to Counteract the Center of Gravity

There are two components in the hoverboard which have particularly this job to detect your center of gravity. One is the tilt sensor and the other is the gyroscope.

Tilt Sensor

Tilt Sensor
Image Source: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Digital_Tilt_Sensor_Forceup_HDR.jpg

A tilt sensor is as it sounds, it senses how much the tilt is. You might think that this is somewhat new technology, but actually, it isn’t. In the early days, big fat mechanical tilt sensors were used, but now this has developed into compact electrical tilt sensors like in the picture above. Relax there, I’m not gonna dig deep into this.

Gyroscope

Gyroscope
Image Source: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:3D_Gyroscope.png

The gyroscope sounds like a “mad scientist” stuff. Well truthfully if you wanna know the working principle of it, then I’m gonna bail out too! The physics behind it is not complex though, but you have to get to know a couple of physics theories & formulas. I’m sure you don’t want it here. Rather I’m gonna talk about why a gyroscope is required in stuff.

To simply put gyroscope lets you know about the orientation of the device you put it in. Let’s talk about gyroscope in cell phones. It’ll help you to get this easily. Almost everybody using a smartphone has played games controlled by the screen orientation. Now how do you think your phone detects in which way you are holding your phone. Yes, it’s a gyroscope that does it.

Gyroscopes are one of the major components behind the self-balancing technology of a hoverboard. I suppose you already get the point that hoverboard gyroscopes are there to detect your orientation or maybe your inclination on the ride. This gyroscope data gets processed by the brain (the main processing board) of the hoverboard and results in enough torque in a particular direction so that you remain balanced.

Only the Balancing is not all!

Apart from balancing the hoverboard, there are some other parts at play for hoverboards to work. And those are not too complex to work with. I know you can name them as well, like wheels, batteries and etc. Let’s get through them quickly.

The Frame

Hoverboard Frame

All the hoverboard parts need to be put into something right? Yes, that something is the frame. However, this frame needs to be centrally pivotal. Meaning right or left ends of the frame should able to move around each other. Now this frame could be made of steel or sturdy plastic even. No harm in either. In fact, any light but strong enough frame should be preferable. Because the heavier the frame is the more weight the hoverboard needs to carry.

Wheels with an Electric Motor

Hoverboard Wheel

Obviously, there are two wheels but amazingly there are two different motors within each of the wheels. Most importantly these wheels can run independently by the rider, one by the right foot and other by the left.

Battery for Power

There are two battery packs in the hoverboard, each for one of the electric motors, sits beside each of the wheels. Usually, these are lithium ion 36V 4400mAH batteries. The battery type can deliver moderate power in less frequent charging. Check our blog on safe batteries for hoverboards to learn more.

The Brain (Logic Board)

Hoverboard Logic Board

All these parts need to be controlled by someone in the hoverboard right? Well, the mastermind is the logic board or motherboard. All the parts feed their data to this board & it controls the motors as it programmed to do. Now the better the brain is the better your hoverboard will behave, meaning reputable hoverboards use robust programming in the logic board.

How all of them in Hoverboards Work Along?

I suppose you know how people ride a hoverboard and if you don’t then no need to worry, check our “How to ride” blog on this. Anyway, when the rider steps on a hoverboard, both the tilt sensors & the gyroscopes start working. The tilt sensors sense if you are inclining forward or backward and the gyroscopes detect the center of gravity of you. All these data are sent to the mainboard and gets processed instantly. As a result, the mainboard instructs the electric motors to rotate the wheels in a particular direction and at a particular speed.

Now to keep a self-balance the mainboard holds a safe range center of gravity by automatically speeding up or slowing down the hoverboard. To get a hold onto the top-performing hoverboards check our Top 10 Hoverboard Reviews.

Don’t forget that this entire thing is an ongoing procedure. Meaning as long as the rider rides it, all the components keep working & the main board keeps processing.

Still curious about how hoverboards work? Check out the awesome teardown video from Fictiv folks below!

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