What Are the Military Applications of Real-Life Hoverboards?

A defense company just bought a hoverboard maker, and things are about to get interesting. 

Implant Sciences Corporation makes and sells explosive- and drug-detection devices to the military, but they’re looking at taking things to a new level. Implant recently acquired Zapata Industries, a hoverboard manufacturer. Apparently, Implant is convinced that actual hoverboards could have “commercial, defense, and homeland security technology applications,” and that their products in general could have “advanced applications within the military, industrial, and medical fields.”

At the moment, U.S. soldiers do not ride hoverboards, because we are not yet living in a science fiction film. Therefore, it’s perfectly reasonable to ask just what the hell kind of “defense and military applications” a hoverboard can bring.

To start, it’s clear that Implant is interested in far more than levitating soldiers. In the press release that announced the acquisition, Implant outlines some other applications: “Zapata Industries can commercialize its breakthrough technology with products ranging from flying medical stretchers and Jetbikes to floating rescue stations, scaffoldings and unmanned heavy payload delivery drones.”

In a Zapata video, we get to see one of these so-called “Jetbikes” in (rendered) action, zipping through what would be otherwise treacherous, impassable streets in a cookie-cutter battlefield that could be any one of the countries in which the U.S. has committed troops in the past 20 years. The Jetbike itself looks a lot like a Star Wars speeder bike:

YouTube / Zapata Industries

Robert Liscouski, President of Implant Sciences, tells Inverse that there have been “no firm commitments from either the [United States Department of Defense] or other nation defense departments.” However, Liscouski says, there’s been plenty of “interested responses.” Zapata’s hovercraft could improve four military functions, Liscouski says, which echo those listed in the press release:

  • Medevac (medical evacuations)
  • Troop transport (single or multiple troops)
  • Cargo transport
  • Augmenting drone capabilities

Whatever Zapata makes is going to hover. The most common improvised explosive devices are pressure-activated; IEDs are very common and very deadly in modern warfare. Hovercraft might not activate these pressure plates.

In other words, we may indeed see some levitating soldiers on the future’s battlefields.