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Transportation

The World's First Commercially Available Jetpack 303

Posted by kdawson
from the quieter-in-version-2 dept.
ElectricSteve writes "It's been a long time coming. While Arthur C. Clarke's geosync satellites have taken to space, and James Bond's futuristic mobile technology has become commonplace, still the dream of sustained personal flight has eluded us — until now. At $86,000, the Martin Aircraft jetpack costs about as much as a high-end car, achieves a 30-minute flight time, and is fueled by regular gasoline. A 10% deposit buys you a production slot for 12 months hence." Here's a video of some indoor test flights. This isn't Buck Rogers's jetpack — it's about 5 by 5 feet and weighs more than the average human. You won't be able to commute with it (the FAA has not certified this class of device) so it's recreational only for now.
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The World's First Commercially Available Jetpack

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  • by Wizard Drongo (712526) <wizard_drongo@ya ... RISuk minus city> on Tuesday March 09, 2010 @07:35PM (#31421538)

    Where's my god damned flying car?!!

    / Also Duke Nukem Forever. Still waiting here...

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by sopssa (1498795) *

      If these things go fast enough, why would you actually need a flying car? Everyone could just move with jetpacks.

    • by icebike (68054) on Tuesday March 09, 2010 @08:10PM (#31421786)

      Exactly.

      This is one of those things that is seemingly announced annually, and never seems to get any closer than a few prototypes.

      Flying is dangerous. A sky full of unregulated idiots is even more scary. Luckily the price tag is high, probably to fund the lawyers they will need.

      • by Jurily (900488)

        A sky full of unregulated idiots is even more scary.

        I wonder what those regulations would look like.

      • by Darkness404 (1287218) on Tuesday March 09, 2010 @09:19PM (#31422226)

        Flying is dangerous. A sky full of unregulated idiots is even more scary. Luckily the price tag is high, probably to fund the lawyers they will need.

        Not really. Flying, when done properly will be -a lot- more safe than driving. With flying, unlike driving you go not just left and right but also up and down. Mix this with the fact that there are no roads (meaning to get to the same place two people can easily take routes miles apart) and you have the ability to reduce, eliminate traffic problems that exist in traditional traffic.

        Also, never underestimate the fact of self-preservation, when encountered in a life threatening situation, people tend to do the right thing and move away from danger. People are self-regulating when it comes to life and death.

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by Asclepius99 (1527727)
          I think they meant dangerous as in when you're car's fuel injector breaks and the car stops your biggest risk is getting hit by the car behind you, with a jetpack you just fall out of the sky. In fact, with almost any failure you just fall out of the sky. So if these things start going like 20 or 50ft up, you're gonna miss for just a plain old car accident.
          • by HBoar (1642149) on Tuesday March 09, 2010 @09:47PM (#31422364)
            The martin jetpack has a ballistic parachute system for such eventualities.
            • by Goonie (8651) <robert DOT merkel AT benambra DOT org> on Tuesday March 09, 2010 @10:36PM (#31422706) Homepage

              This device uses a two-stroke engine as its powerplant. Two-stroke engines are notoriously unreliable. You will get engine failures on these every couple of hundred hours of flying time, and most likely it'll occur when the engine is under load in initial takeoff or landing.

              Let's assume that the engine stops at 50 feet.

              If the engine dies, this thing will, pretty much instantly, drop like a rock. Assuming a little bit of aerodynamic drag, it would take around 1.8 seconds and terminal velocity would be around 35 mph. In other words, you would splatter yourself over the tarmac like jelly. Ballistic recovery chutes work faster than conventional chutes, but it's still going to take virtually all of those 1.8 seconds even to deploy the chute, let alone achieve significant retardation. The only solution would be something like emergency rockets to lift the pack (and user) to sufficient altitude to deploy the recovery chute safely.

              Would you fly something that will need you to use the last-ditch "ejector seat" system every couple of hundred flying hours?

              • by im_thatoneguy (819432) on Tuesday March 09, 2010 @11:09PM (#31422920)

                From the website:

                Rollcage:
                Although it is not visually apparent the Martin Jetpack has an internal roll cage. The ducts currently have a carbon kevlar hoop. These are to protect the pilot from side impact. The control arms protect from the front and are designed to snap off in a hard impact, the ducts then further protect the pilot. The structure extends below the level of the spine to prevent injury from a hard landing. In effect the pilot is housed in a protective cocoon by the structure and engine. Further enhancements are planned for impact protection, the goal is to provide impact protection from 30 feet high.

                Minimal Avoidance Curve:
                Helicopters and other VTOL aircraft normally have an avoidance curve. This is
                the height where an impact is not survivable but below which other procedures like "autorotation" are not possible. Currently we think that with good design and correct flying procedures the avoidance curve can be eliminated. This is one of the reasons we feel that the Jetpack will be safer than current "light helicopters".

                My 2 cents:
                Most engine failures aren't instantaneous in my experience. If you're gaining altitude there is probably only 4 seconds during those hundreds of hours that you would feasibly be in the 'death zone'. I also reject your theory that most failures would take place during the initial climb. Considering the aircraft itself offers 0 lift climbing and hovering would probably be similar engine strain.

                Also keep in mind that's a 4 cylinder 2 stroke. I find it unlikely you would encounter an engine problem which would take out the entire engine in mid flight. If a spark plug somehow went out or a single valve failed you would still most likely have enough power to descend safely. If we're talking about something like the fuel pump then that's just as likely to go out while sitting on the tarmac as the first 3 seconds of flight.

              • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

                by fnj (64210)

                Horse feathers. Two-stroke engines have few moving parts; no valves or oil pump. As a class, and other factors being equal, they are inherently much more reliable than 4-stroke engines. There have been many cheap 2-stroke engines with miserable reliability, but for $86,000 I will bet this one is flight rated, and a different story. Cargo ship builders and operators do not seem to think that 2-stroke diesels are unreliable. The preponderance of both bet their business on them.

                This particular engine (FTF

              • by GooberToo (74388) on Wednesday March 10, 2010 @01:52AM (#31423554)

                Let's assume that the engine stops at 50 feet.

                For what its worth, helicopters have these same types of failure concerns. Contrary to popular myth, beginning auto rotation generally requires time for the pilot to respond. Furthermore, most helicopters have a critical horizontal speed which must be obtained before enough energy can be maintained in the rotor system to safely auto rotate. As such, there is a critical failure window in all single engine helicopters, during take off, in which auto rotation is all but impossible. Multi-engine helicopters are generally not an issue as worst case they will generally have enough power to safely land in this critical window of time.

        • With flying, unlike driving you go not just left and right but also up and down..

          Not the way I drive.

        • by Av8rjoker (1212804) on Tuesday March 09, 2010 @11:06PM (#31422888)
          "when done properly" is the key phrase there. Flying is HIGHLY regulated by the government. For one, you need a medical certificate to fly which needs to be updated every few years (depending on what class it is). Also, you need a certified AP mechanic to sign off on your aircraft. With a car, your drunk neighbor can basically build a car for you, and as long as you acquired a driver's license.... even 50 years ago.... you can drive it. As long as you are 18 (in Wisconsin at least), you don't even need a driver's education course. All you need to do is pass the test, which is ridiculously easy, and you get a license for the rest of your life. Now, I have flown in a few aircraft that were slightly "questionable", but they were definitely airworthy. It is a bit scary pulling out the throttle and having the knob immediately pop off hehe. Also going into the clouds for the first time and having your VOR about 15 degrees off (I think I got a few more gray hairs on that one). My point is that the reason why flying is so safe is because it is extremely regulated. If everyone's car went through the same maintenance procedure as a Cessna 150 built in the mid 50s, then we would have almost no broken down cars on the highway. If the drivers were put through the same sort of training as pilots, we would have far fewer accidents.
          • by Bitsy Boffin (110334) on Wednesday March 10, 2010 @03:58AM (#31424094) Homepage

            Flying is HIGHLY regulated by the government. For one, you need a medical certificate to fly which needs to be updated every few years

            Don't be so quick to generalize there sonny. Lst time I checked you do not need a license to fly an ultralight aircraft in the United States of America. You do not need a medical. You are not even required to undertake any training. You can perfectly legally purchase a Part 103 ultralight aircraft, jump in, and go fly.

            You'll probably kill yourself if you did do that, but at least you'd be doing so legally.

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          On what _possible_ basis do you make this claim? With home jetpacks, (or more likely the jetwings at www.jet-man.com), you open the world to a lot of poorly maintained one-man craft that can drop out of the sky onto _anything_. And while there may be "no roads", there are a relatively limited set of common destinations.

          Your belief that "people are self-regulationg when it comes to life and death" is also founded in, I'm sorry to say, complete fantasy. Take a good look at the number of people who smoke, over

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by Av8rjoker (1212804)
        I can barely understand how some people are allowed to drive vehicles on a 2D plane. I don't even have my certificate, but I've had two near misses in a Cessna 172 because one pilot, not announcing his intentions on the radio at a small airport, decided to fly in at about 500 feet and cut me off in the pattern on my final; and another helicopter pilot who flew about 50 feet under me just as I took off. Both times I was flying alone and as a student. It was absolutely terrifying. There is no possible way tha
    • Where's my god damned flying car?!!

      Please, we've had flying cars [wired.com] since the 1930s. Duke Nukem Forever, I can't help you with...

    • You'll get Duke Nukem Forever when you strap in a pig onto one of those.
    • by wjsteele (255130) on Tuesday March 09, 2010 @10:23PM (#31422608)
      Your flying car is over at Terrafugia [terrafugia.com].

      Bill
  • by master5o1 (1068594) on Tuesday March 09, 2010 @07:36PM (#31421542) Homepage
  • by tjstork (137384) <todd.bandrowsky@gm a i l.com> on Tuesday March 09, 2010 @07:37PM (#31421556) Homepage Journal

    This thing looks more like a Jet Refrigerator or a Jet Stove that you attach to it. The whole beauty of the Jet pack was that it was something you carried with you, perhaps even under your sport coat, then, suddenly, you throw your coat off, ignite your rocket, and you are saved, and probably with a hot chick in your arms.

    • by Fred_A (10934) <`fred' `at' `fredshome.org'> on Tuesday March 09, 2010 @07:43PM (#31421612) Homepage

      The whole beauty of the Jet pack was that it was something you carried with you, perhaps even under your sport coat, then, suddenly, you throw your coat off, ignite your rocket, and you are saved, and probably with a hot chick in your arms.

      (Hot chick sold separately)

      Also this jet pack apparently works with fans instead of jets. Which is probably good news for your front lawn and your calves.

      • by sopssa (1498795) *

        Also this jet pack apparently works with fans instead of jets. Which is probably good news for your front lawn and your calves.

        And someones head when you land next to him.

      • (Hot chick sold separately)

        Where can I get just that then? If I have that part then I don't need a jetpack to pick up more.

    • Yeah, in the movies. In real life, they'd probably be used to replace cherry pickers for certain applications.

    • > This thing looks more like a Jet Refrigerator or a Jet Stove that you attach to it.

      First thoughts? Wile.E.Coyote and the wonderful products from ACME.

  • TBO 100 hours (Score:5, Informative)

    by RichMan (8097) on Tuesday March 09, 2010 @07:40PM (#31421582)

    That's 100 hours of motor operation before you have to overhaul the engine.
    At 30 minutes per flight that is 200 flights.

    Still not good for distance or anything more than short hops.

    • by icebike (68054)

      Oh, but the web page says its easy to maintain, so no doubt that overhall is all done with just a screw driver, right?

      Redundant systems too it says.
      Two fans. I bet it doesn't fly worth didly squat when one gives out.

      • by peragrin (659227)

        probably tied together. one won't fail(other than blade damage) without the other one failing at the same time.

      • a ballistic parachute [...] which will allow the pilot and jetpack to descend together. It also has an impact-absorbing carriage,

        My guess is that the parachute won't work below 30 metres and the landing gear won't help you above ~5 metres. I don't think this is very safe at low altitude. Article also says it has one engine driving both fans. I doubt that autorotation would help at all.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by HBoar (1642149)

        Lighten up. If you're willing to pay ~$100k for a flying toy, I'm sure you can pay a mechanic to rebuild it if you can't cope with more than a screwdriver. The engine has been purpose built for the application, but it's nothing overly special, basically just a large-ish motorbike engine.

        It has a ballistic parachute for when the shit hits the fan(s). Not much good at low altitude, so you woulnd't want to be hovering about the rooftops for too long, but no light aircraft is overly safe.... I'd imagine th

  • by cytoman (792326) on Tuesday March 09, 2010 @07:40PM (#31421590)
    The summary doesn't mention the location...it's in New Zealand. What about US companies developing this kind of stuff? Not happening here?
  • I NEED one!!!
  • by thepainguy (1436453) <thepainguy@gmail.com> on Tuesday March 09, 2010 @07:45PM (#31421622) Homepage
    I'm still waiting for my jet pack (and supersonic flight).
  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday March 09, 2010 @07:50PM (#31421658)

    The Mosquito [mosquito.net.nz] still looks like a better idea. It's probably cheaper, and it will autorotate and thus be a lot more survivable if the engine goes out.

    On the plus side, The jetpack does look like it would be marginally more easy to set down in say, a supermarket parking lot. It looks easier to fly. There are no rotors exposed which makes it safer in tightly constrained environments; but the other safety factors probably outweigh.

    I don't see myself going up in either one; but if it were a choice, I'd go with the little chopper.

    • by jonwil (467024)

      The real question is, are you legally allowed to take off or land in either of these flying machines (the one in TFA or the Mosquito) from just anywhere? (such as your backyard, the parking lot at the shopping center, the flat space near your office building or whatever)

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by FrankSchwab (675585)

        FAA Part 103 http://ecfr.gpoaccess.gov/cgi/t/text/text-idx?c=ecfr&rgn=div5&view=text&node=14:2.0.1.3.16&idno=14 [gpoaccess.gov] covers the flight privileges for this device.

        Generally, don't cause trouble, and don't make a scene. ( Sec. 103.9 No person may operate any ultralight vehicle in a manner that creates a hazard to other persons or property.)

        Specifically, not allowed to fly in most controlled airspace, not allowed to fly over congested areas (i.e. don't fly where people can see you), can't fly at ni

      • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

        by Cjstone (1144829)
        No. Both of these are registered as ultralight aircraft, which are prohibited from flying over populated areas. In other words, ultralight aircraft are the airborne equivalent of an ATV or a snowmobile, only really useful for recreational purposes.
  • by danlip (737336) on Tuesday March 09, 2010 @07:51PM (#31421668)

    I think it would be bit cooler if it got more than 6 feet off the ground.
    TFA says "can reach 8000 ft (estimated)" but none of the picks or videos show that.

  • All I could think of (Score:4, Interesting)

    by voss (52565) on Tuesday March 09, 2010 @07:52PM (#31421678)

    Was not buck rogers, but the terminator H-K units. Someone is gonna realize, carrying a 200 pound human makes no sense...but strapping on a 100 pounds of
    bulletproofing and some .30 cal machine guns and thermal imaging units and a remote control system and youre there.

    • by RobinEggs (1453925) on Tuesday March 09, 2010 @08:11PM (#31421792)
      Um...compared to the stuff you're talking about a 200 lb human, even one carrying an M4 and covered in full body kevlar, is a downright bargain in the weight department. Armor, machine guns, imaging, and remote controls? How little do you think that stuff weighs?
      • 190lbs. Clearly.

      • by Barny (103770)

        Hrmm, lets think, for a few hundred I can get a camera with rf transmitter that weighs about 100g (check out the ones approved for motor-sports), armour is a secondary issue if you can make it cheap enough (and a small self destruct charge for when it does take a hit in hostile areas, to prevent the enemy retrieving munitions).

        For aiming, well the thing looks pretty damn stable, might have to work on some firmware mods to make it allow for weapon kick, leading targets, etc.

        But throw in one of those metal-st

      • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

        by TopSpin (753) *

        A complete M134 system (a "30 cal" minigun that door gunners use to shred stuff) with 1500 rounds is about 191 lbs. Specs here [dillonaero.com]. Your 200 lbs figure is arbitrary; the pentagon could order up a design to handle 300-400 lbs to deal with the additional mass of telemetry, servos, sensors, etc.

        No, the parent was correct; making a remote controlled "H-K" like unit from this ducted fan is entirely feasible, and probably inevitable. Flying a minigun across town or over the hill to zap a mortar team will occur t

  • nah (Score:5, Interesting)

    by JackSpratts (660957) on Tuesday March 09, 2010 @08:01PM (#31421720) Homepage
    that's not a rocket pack. this is a rocket pack. self-taught guy's been building them for years: http://www.motherboard.tv/2010/2/26/jetpacks-this-mexican-inventor-s-been-making-them-for-years--2 [motherboard.tv]
  • by OzPeter (195038) on Tuesday March 09, 2010 @08:03PM (#31421744)

    They really do fly this time!!

    Just listen to the sound track on the training video - even sounds like it was scripted by the show

  • So, it's massive, ridiculously expensive, and useless?

    Why, this thing could replace the Segway as the most popular mode of transportation!
  • better flight (Score:2, Interesting)

    by gamecrusader (1684024)

    what can go possibly wrong with this
    I know if someon decides to put rocke fuel instead of gasoline
    jet fuel instead of gasoline
    add nitro to increase preformance
    this will be interesting how this plays out

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by John Hasler (414242)

      I assume you are unaware of the fact that both rocket fuel and jet fuel are essentially kerosene: not something gasoline engines run well on.

      Nitromethane, on the other hand, might be interesting. You can be the test pilot, though. I'll watch from the bunker.

  • I belive driven not by jet engines, but by a ducted van. *not* a jetpack!

  • by MillionthMonkey (240664) on Tuesday March 09, 2010 @08:14PM (#31421808)
    The payments on $86K are going to be a bitch. I can't wait for jetpacks to start appearing on Operation Repo.
  • Will they use this song [wikipedia.org] for their TV ads?

  • Short Ranged (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Game_Ender (815505)
    It only has a 30 mile range and gets just 0.5 hours of flight time with its 5 gallons of fuel. Not exactly the best commute vehicle. Source: http://www.martinjetpack.com/technical-information.aspx [martinjetpack.com]
  • It's the protective equivalent of a motorcycle.

    I hope it has a big plastic bag in it to collect body parts.

  • And to think, I've heard of people spending 100k on a nice kitchen or a sports car.

  • by macraig (621737) <.mark.a.craig. .at. .gmail.com.> on Tuesday March 09, 2010 @08:32PM (#31421932)

    That's not a 'jetpack'... it's a VTOL without the jet. And just as noisy... it's a boom box car that breaks wind.

  • Sign me up for one of these AFTER the deaths per hour rate has been well-established.

  • by Dun Malg (230075) on Tuesday March 09, 2010 @08:39PM (#31421988) Homepage
    This design does not meet the basic definition of a proper science fiction jetpack. Specifically, you cannot walk around with it on your back, then decide "you know, I think I'll fly over that wall" and then WHOOOOOOSH! over the wall you go. This thing is obviously too big and heavy to tote around on your back. Heck, I don't even really see the point of harnessing to it with straps--- you'd be better off with a seat, maybe with and instrument panel, and perhaps a windscreen, because if you can't carry the thing on your back, what does it matter?
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by MichaelSmith (789609)

      you'd be better off with a seat, maybe with and instrument panel, and perhaps a windscreen,

      A 20G crash cage wouldn't go astray either.

    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by earlymon (1116185)

      Heck, I don't even really see the point of harnessing to it with straps--- you'd be better off with a seat, maybe with and instrument panel, and perhaps a windscreen, because if you can't carry the thing on your back, what does it matter?

      Might as well add wheels to move it about while on ground - and maybe a way to retract them; and then add a bit more fuel capacity for all of the trouble. At its heart is a V-4 engine - might as well upgrade that.

      While we're at it, we could even toss on wings and a tail.....

  • How loud is it? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Mr_Blank (172031) on Tuesday March 09, 2010 @08:52PM (#31422096) Journal

    Having my head 1 meter from a 100+ decibel turbo props for 30 minutes at a time does not sound like a good idea. Crashing in the equivalent of a flying motorcycle (human body moving fast on a structure required to hold a combustion engine) does not sound good for my health either.

  • by gmuslera (3436)
    Have wires, needs more space than a nomad. Lame.
  • by DrBuzzo (913503) on Tuesday March 09, 2010 @09:14PM (#31422204) Homepage
    You can't walk around with it. It has a dry weight of 250 lbs. In other words - it's not Man Portable. That's the critical thing about a proper jetpack. You can walk around with a jetpack. You can take off, fly to the store, walk into the store, buy something, then fly away, land somewhere else, talk to someone about how cool your jet pack is and then fly away again.

    If it's not man portable, it may still be cool, but it defeats the purpose of a jet pack. You may as well strap yourself to the side of a full sized helicopter and fly around like that. For that matter, why not just sit inside the helicopter.

    Also it's not a jetpack. The bell jetbelt was a jetpack because it used a WR-19 turbine jet engine. This doesn't. It uses ducted fans which aren't even powered by a gas turbine. There's nothing jet about it.
  • The gear costs less than the deposit on this thing, there is no waiting, and it is immense fun. Besides, for paragliding you don't need a license, so you can start trying to kill yourself right away. This says "ultralight", so probably needs a license. (Note: paragliding without license may be allowed, but doing so without adequate training is pretty lethal).
  • The story is about a Glenn Martin of New Zealand.

    Many years ago, I worked at the Glenn L. Martin Company in Middle River, Maryland, just outside Baltimore. That company later became part of Martin-Marietta and was merged into Lockheed-Martin.

    Glenn L. Martin established his company in Middle River to be able to work on seaplanes. You don't hear much about those anymore, but they could take off and land on the water. The final seaplane project of the company was a jet seaplane that was later cancelled. On

  • by GNUALMAFUERTE (697061) <almafuerte@@@gmail...com> on Tuesday March 09, 2010 @11:26PM (#31422994)

    They are having surely huge issues with it's stability and control. I'm also sure it's not generating enough thrust. In all videos they show, two man are holding the device down, pretending that it's because of safety concerns. Bullshit. If they let it go, it'll go crazy and crash into the ground. There's only ONE video of the thing flying by itself, and it's INDOORS (Yeah, no wind at all), it doesn't go higher than half a meter off the ground, it doesn't move at all (It just floats there, and then it rotates on it's own axis), and the flight only lasts 30 seconds. The other video that shows the thing flying in outdoors (not fully outdoors, it's a backyard, well protected against wind), the camera is carefully positioned on the helmet, so that whatever is holding it still, can't be seen. There's no video from other points, only the on-helmet camera. And the video only lasts 10 seconds. And it's cut off mid-flight.

    Nothing to see here folks, move along.

  • Not a jetpack (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Chris Mattern (191822) on Wednesday March 10, 2010 @03:54AM (#31424070)

    How can you call it a jetpack when it doesn't have any jets? More of a ducted-fan pack.

  • Who want to bet.. (Score:3, Insightful)

    by chord.wav (599850) on Wednesday March 10, 2010 @09:03AM (#31425552) Journal

    ..that the first kill by one of these is a multi-millionaire executive of a top company that missed to reach his office's window on the 100th floor after commuting from a distance which burned most of his fuel?

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