Inventor turns leaf blower into a hovercraft

Leaf Blower Hovercraft Hideyasu Ito
Hideyasu Ito demonstrates his micro hovercraft, which has four air skirts, at the annual DIY exhibition Maker Faire Tokyo 2022. Image courtesy Hideyasu Ito

In the innovative world of technology, many inventors are attempting to break the mold with cutting-edge designs. One such innovator is Hideyasu Ito, a Tokyo-based inventor who has grabbed the spotlight in the tech world after a video featuring his ingenious hovercraft invention took social media by storm.

Ito began his hovercraft venture back in 2013, fuelled by his purchase of a cheap leaf blower. The leaf blower, initially bought without a particular use in mind, eventually became the inspiration behind his project. This revelation occurred after Ito stumbled upon an individual who had repurposed a leaf blower into a hovercraft, an idea which prompted him to explore the possibility of creating his own.

Since then, Ito has spent years in his “micro hovercraft laboratory” iterating on his concept, turning simple materials and tools into innovative vehicles. His hovercraft, a DIY creation, is the result of using resources from home improvement stores such as lumber, components from radio-controlled cars, and parts from bicycles. As the project evolved, Ito started sourcing parts from 3D printers and specific components from China to enhance the hovercraft’s performance.

Ito’s ingenuity caught the public eye in 2022 at the Maker Faire technology convention in Tokyo. Here, he displayed a prototype of his micro-hovercraft, drawing the attention of British YouTuber Tom Scott, known for his deep dives into intriguing technological advancements. Intrigued by the invention, Scott traveled to Tsubame City, Japan, to meet Ito and test his invention. Their encounter culminated in a video that went viral, bringing Ito’s invention into the global spotlight.

Leaf Blower Hovercraft Hideyasu Ito Tom Scott
Tom Scott joyfully pilots Hideyasu Ito’s innovative hovercraft – screenshot from Youtube

The hovercraft, though compact, is impressively engineered. The vehicle’s design comprises four fans that inflate four plastic containers akin to balloons. Once inflated, these containers act as propellers, levitating the driver a few centimeters above the ground. This characteristic, though seemingly small, is sufficient to classify Ito’s creation as a true hovercraft.

In an interview, Ito revealed that his journey had begun out of sheer curiosity. However, as his hovercraft prototypes evolved, he began envisioning different versions of the vehicle, such as electric-powered models and variants suitable for children. In one of his latest interviews with Tom Scott, Ito unveiled a new prototype that was half the size of the one he initially presented in September.

Hideyasu Ito Hoverbike Version Prototype 9
Hideyasu Ito constructs a scaled-down, two-skirted hovercraft, reminiscent of a hoverbike – screenshot from Youtube

Ito’s ambitious journey does not end here. He expressed an even more daring vision for the future of his hovercraft project: “I want to try to make hovercrafts that you can wear on your feet. That would be fun,” he stated. This aspiration truly showcases his commitment to continuous innovation and an eagerness to revolutionize personal transportation.

Hideyasu Ito Leaf Blower Hovercraft Overhead View
Overhead view of Hideyasu Ito’s leaf blower hovercraft.

The accessibility of Ito’s design, constructed from simple and relatively cheap materials, suggests that this could open a pathway for more people to engage with and recreate their own hovercrafts. Hideyasu Ito’s story is a testament to the power of creativity and tenacity, demonstrating that with an innovative mindset, even everyday items can be transformed into extraordinary technology.

Check out Tom Scott’s video below.