Forgot your password?
typodupeerror
Transportation Technology

The First 'Practical' Jetpack May Be On Sale In Two Years 127

Posted by Soulskill
from the for-sufficiently-impractical-values-of-practical dept.
Daniel_Stuckey writes "This week, New Zealand-based company Martin Aircraft became certified to take what it calls 'the world's first practical jetpack' out for a series of manned test flights. If all goes well, the company plans to start selling a consumer version of the jetpack in 2015, starting at $150,000 to $200,000 and eventually dropping to $100,000. 'For us it's a very important step because it moves it out of what I call a dream into something which I believe we're now in a position to commercialize and take forward very quickly,' CEO Peter Coker told the AFP."

This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

The First 'Practical' Jetpack May Be On Sale In Two Years

Comments Filter:
  • Practical (Score:5, Insightful)

    by ZombieBraintrust (1685608) on Tuesday August 13, 2013 @04:57PM (#44558479)

    30 minutes max... 400 pounds.... starting at $150,000

    I think this guy has a skewed idea of practical.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      50km/hr for 30 minutes is 25km.

      Halve that for a return trip, and halve it again for a safety margin, and anyone who lives within 6km of work now has a viable method of commuting that completely avoids traffic.

      • by durrr (1316311)

        It says 60mph in the vice article. And depending on your workplace you could perhaps refill the jetpack before you fly back home.
        Even if we're conservative with our fuel use that still let us live some ~15 kilometer from work and reach it with little concern for traffic and roads, in ~10-15 minutes only! Now weather is a different matter. As is fuel use... and maintenance requirements.

        For $100k, if it's easy to fly and safe I could see it become quite common. Once they get the range up a bit more along with

        • It says 60mph in the vice article.

          With traffic, it'll be 50mph :-)

          Thing is, I can imagine this thing carrying a parachute for an emergency, but it would have to be flying real high to be able to deploy it in time if engine cuts out unpredictably. Still leaves the question of take-off and landings (if engine dies when you're say 50 feet of the ground...). With airplanes and helicopters you can at least glide back.... with this thing, it would just fall like a rock.

      • by macson_g (1551397)

        anyone who lives within 6km of work now has a viable method of commuting that completely avoids traffic

        It's called 'bicycle', and it's slightly cheaper than 150k$.

      • by Spudley (171066)

        50km/hr for 30 minutes is 25km.

        Halve that for a return trip, and halve it again for a safety margin, and anyone who lives within 6km of work now has a viable method of commuting that completely avoids traffic.

        Anyone who lives within 6km of work and earns a bucketload of cash.

        That narrows it down a bit further.

        Still I'm sure they'll manage to sell enough of them to make some money. At least until the first fatal accident, anyway.

    • Re:Practical (Score:4, Informative)

      by Freshly Exhumed (105597) on Tuesday August 13, 2013 @05:06PM (#44558569) Homepage

      It *is* practical, if you are a narcissistic, sociopathic, self-anointed demigod, bent on showering the world with your Putin-esque, machismo mojo.

      • It *is* practical, if you are a narcissistic, sociopathic, self-anointed demigod, bent on showering the world with your Putin-esque, machismo mojo.

        So, for politicians, CEO's and actors?

    • I think this guy has a skewed idea of practical.

      It's all relative. This is at least conceivably practical for specialized, high-value uses. When you compare to earlier jet packs, which had similar cost and weight but lasted only three or four minutes, it's quite practical.

    • by CAIMLAS (41445)

      If you could get a single paramedic across town in 5 minutes, versus the time it'd take several to mount and spin up a helocopter, etc. this seems fairly practical to me. That said, a jetpack just seems impractical at this point - it's science fiction. We can't illicit enough thrust from something so compact as to be practical.

      That said, it's got a 30 mile range. They really need to think about a rotobird variant, either single or double blade. I'm guessing it could be done for less than $50k, bringing it w

      • If you could get a single paramedic across town in 5 minutes,

        Then you still have to get him, and the patient, back. And you may not have heard, but Americans are getting heavier by the year -- we're having to upgrade to heavy duty gurneys, MRI machines with reinforced steel loaders... people are having to be cut out of their homes for transport because they've turned all Jabba the Hut. You're not going to take two average americans, put them on a scale, and come in at under 400 pounds. Sorry. But even if you could, people lie about their weight and that means you'll

        • by dgatwood (11270)

          The jetpack should provide more than enough thrust for a paramedic, a small bottle of oxygen, a handful of epi pens, and a portable AED. That rapid first response could be quite valuable in terms of stabilizing the patient in many cases even if it does still take a few extra minutes for the ambulance to arrive.

          That said, even in spite of that, the entire concept still borders on insane. :-)

        • First, a motorcycle rider isn't in the same category as a "Thrill seeker". Maybe the people that ride around in Ninjas and crotch rockets... but the rest of us who ride have a term for those people: Organ donors. Most people ride motorcycles because they're liberating, they're fuel efficient, and because they have fast reflexes. Mostly that's because of people who drive cars stupidly... motorcyclists are amongst the most safety-conscious people on the road. Okay, rant done.

          I take some objection to that notion. Possibly thrill seeker is a little extreme, but motorcycle riders can certainly be be categorized at least as being non-risk adverse. There is no doubt that riding a motorcycle is vastly more dangerous than driving a car, is you're someone who categorizes that as important, and especially if you're not going to counterbalance that fact in the decision making process that motorcycles are vastly more fun than cars (or as you call it, liberating), then you're not going to

        • Then you still have to get him, and the patient, back.

          No you don't. There are already motorbike and bicycle paramedics who can get the patient assessed and stabilised before the ambulance gets there.

          Not that I expect this to be a practical alternative, but that point at least is invalid.

        • by CAIMLAS (41445)

          On the matter of bikes and cost...

          If you're going 60 miles an hour or more, you're almost invariably trusting your life to a combination of road construction, road conditions, and a $150(ish) tire. And how well do you trust the frame welds?

          And I personally see the liberation of riding to be a huge thrill. I'm not talking about recklessness, I'm just talking about the liberty of being on a bike in general.

          (I live 40 miles from Sturgis... bikes are culture here.)

          • If you're going 60 miles an hour or more, you're almost invariably trusting your life to a combination of road construction, road conditions, and a $150(ish) tire. And how well do you trust the frame welds?

            I can see the road and the road conditions. I've had tires blow out and it doesn't immediately result in the car exploding, killing everyone inside... instead it just makes a wub-wub-wub sound like it's dub-stepping and the car starts to pull hard to one side. Assuming you aren't in the middle of a turn at freeway speeds, it's a non-event. Aaaand if you are... well, let's just say you can skip the morning coffee because the morning commute just took a turn for the interesting.

            And as far as trusting the fram

    • by jones_supa (887896) on Tuesday August 13, 2013 @05:33PM (#44558883)

      30 minutes max... 400 pounds....

      A Pentium 4 laptop on battery?

    • by tibit (1762298)

      The price is "a bit" impractical. If this 400lb includes the chute with an automatic ejector that triggers upon loss of thrust (measured by an accelerometer), then it's OK. It'd be a deathtrap without a chute that will unfurl and slow you down with a minimum loss of altitude. I'd think if the survivable loss-of-thrust altitude was 25m, I'd consider buying it after it dropped to $65k or so. This means that the chute must have pyro ejectors and whatnot, and it better be demonstrated that it actually works :)

      • That 150 grand breaks down as 10 thousand for the Jetpack, 60 thousand public damage and liability insurance and 80 thousand hospitalization / life insurance with an extra 50 thousand if you wish to be covered for "collision with the ground."
        • fuel is on top of that as well FAA fines / jail time if you mess with other air traffic.

          • by tompaulco (629533)
            I'm not sure where, if anywhere, this would fall under FAA rules, but I would bet that it works out that you can;t fly it period outside of model airplane or model rocketry areas.
            • by tibit (1762298)

              In other words: it might be more practical for me to go the 5 miles to work by ejecting myself (somehow) along a ballistic trajectory, and using a parasail for terminal deceleration and guidance :)

  • by Anonymous Coward

    Now we just need to get a Kickstarter going to fund Spinfusor development.

  • This is the VTOL equivalent of the ultra-light aircraft: take away everything but the barest essentials, and a "jet pack" is what you have left.

    Unlike conventional ultralights, "the barest essentials" in this case don't even include wings, due to the greater thrust of jet engines.

    Computer control is clearly very important to making this thing work--I bet there is a very clever stablization algorithm at work in the background, and various emergency control and landing modes that make it relatively idiot-pro

    • due to the greater thrust of jet engines.

      This machine uses ducted fans. Not jets.

    • by tibit (1762298)

      Emergency control? On what, a ducted fan? If you lose thrust, there better be a bunch of pyros that eject and forcibly unfurl a chute for you, otherwise you're dead.

    • make it relatively idiot-proof.

      That sounds like a challenge!

    • by slick7 (1703596)
      Back in the sixties, Popular Science had on the front cover a true jetpack developed by Bell Helicopters. I believe there was some demonstration videos. Then, something happened, as Hawking would say and nothing more was ever heard.
  • by Animats (122034) on Tuesday August 13, 2013 @05:00PM (#44558519) Homepage

    This thing is heavier than some ultralight helicopters.

    If you want an ultralight helicopter, they're available [rotorfx.com] for as little as $6,000.

  • hmm (Score:5, Insightful)

    by orbitalia (470425) on Tuesday August 13, 2013 @05:03PM (#44558539) Homepage

    Only it's not practical, a jet, or a pack.

    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Also you can't put turbines in ground effect like that, they won't last 10 flights. A totally idiotic idea.

      • by xyra132 (615021)
        How come? Is it because they are vertically mounted? There have been wing in ground effect aircraft with turbines. Genuinely interested, as have an interest in ground effect vehicles (mainly propellor based models, but still)
  • by Anonymous Coward

    The best part is how quiet it is ... can't want until hundreds of people are commuting in that :)

  • I thought they were available now [youtube.com].
  • I'd rather have (Score:5, Interesting)

    by ackthpt (218170) on Tuesday August 13, 2013 @05:09PM (#44558613) Homepage Journal

    A portable, one man blimp with pedal power.

    just try to keep me out of your cactus farm now!

  • Looks like the Coyote strapped some jets to grampa's rocking chair.
  • seen those in RC planes. they're not jet engines, but they'll fly: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RtDykslL954 [youtube.com]
  • Prepare yourself for a shock. I'm the Rocketeer.
  • You can say it's the "first practical jetpack".

    It costs over $100,000.
    It's not allowed in "urban areas"

    Not practical for 99.999999999999999% of people.
    I could add more 9's but it isn't practical.

    • Math lesson (Score:5, Funny)

      by somepunk (720296) on Tuesday August 13, 2013 @05:42PM (#44558973) Homepage

      Not practical for 99.999999999999999% of people.

      99% is all but one in a hundred, or 1e2.. add a power of ten for each 9, and you get.. 1e17, or all but 1 in 100 million billion. People? That's more people than ever existed. I think this thing is at least practical for the promoters, or at least whomever has been recieving the money they spend on devlopment and promotion. You'd still be off if you counted each person's individual cells.

      I could add more 9's

      No, you've added quite enough already.

  • Very loud.

    I can't imagine a situation where these would be allowed unfettered flight over urban areas because of the noise. From the video, it seems like full ear protection is required even for the ground crew. The noise limits the useability.

    • by jonyen (2633919)
      First person to buy one of these is going to get shot down for their obnoxiousness. Maybe I'll consider getting one after the early adopter phase is over.
  • by avandesande (143899) on Tuesday August 13, 2013 @05:16PM (#44558709) Journal

    floating above earth
    ariel shriek of mower
    meet a grassy death

  • Reminds of a mini Moller Skycar M400 [moller.com] , except it works. I've been following the M400 since about 1990 in hopes it might actually make it somewhere, unfortunately, this is as good at it has gotten. [youtube.com] never understood why the last decade in computer advances haven't lent something towards stability for that crazy thing. Maybe they should take a lesson from this. I've given up on Moller's sky car, yet things like this make me still dream about it. Oh well...
  • Awesome (Score:5, Funny)

    by TheSkepticalOptimist (898384) on Tuesday August 13, 2013 @05:31PM (#44558871)

    Can't wait to take my jetpack to the Hyperloop station so I can commute to my job in Atlantis.

  • Apparently this was built using a Beowulf cluster of leaf blowers. Your neighbors will be thrilled with you when you jet off at 6 AM. But it sure looks damn cool to fly around in.
  • by joe_frisch (1366229) on Tuesday August 13, 2013 @05:44PM (#44558997)

    Look at the Mosquito aviation stuff: http://www.innovator.mosquito.net.nz/mbbs2/mosqspec.asp [mosquito.net.nz]
    1 hour endurance at 70mph at 5 gph. 1/3 the horsepower and higher cruise speed.
    The mosquito costs $30K. for a kit, 200 hours build time.

    People build helicopters rather than lift-jets because moving a large volume of air slowly is more efficient than moving a small volume of air quickly. (force is goes as (M/s)*V, power as (M/s)*V^2).

    A compact jet pack you could wear would be great, the this isn't it.

    • by TheSync (5291)

      So why are these ultralight helicopters mainly controlled by a person? It seems to me they would be safer if fly-bi-wire with a computer doing most of the work of stability.

      • by slinches (1540051)

        So why are these ultralight helicopters mainly controlled by a person? It seems to me they would be safer if fly-bi-wire with a computer doing most of the work of stability.

        Weight. If you add the mass of the computer control and actuation systems necessary for fly by wire it would no longer qualify for the ultralight category. Oh, and it would cost a lot more than $30k, but possibly less than the $150k "jetpack" proposed here.

    • by erice (13380)

      The helicopter needs a lot more room to land. Now this isn't terribly important until the "jetpack" is cleared for flying in populated areas but if/when it is the ability to land in a very small space will be a big deal.

      • The jet blast will need a fair bit of open space as well, Not sure how it compares to the helicopeter. (which has a 18' rotor diameter).

        I don't know what the jetpack does in the event of an engine failure. The helicopter can autorotate (at least in theory -its tricky in real life).

        • by Deadstick (535032)

          I don't know what the jetpack does in the event of an engine failure.

          It does 32.174 feet per second squared.

    • People build helicopters rather than lift-jets because moving a large volume of air slowly is more efficient than moving a small volume of air quickly. (force is goes as (M/s)*V, power as (M/s)*V^2).

      ...An convenient illustration of this is the Atlas Human Powered Helicopter [wikipedia.org] which uses massive slow-moving rotors to compensate for a human's puny power output.

    • by linatux (63153)

      One advantage the Martin has is that the blades are enclosed. I'd have better luck getting permission to land a Martin in the carpark than a Mosquito.

      30 minutes at max speed of around 60 mph : would probably be enough for me to do a return trip on one tank - if only the damn airport wasn't in the way!
      (Not that I have a spare US$150k)

  • Besides the hearing loss of those who fly without hearing protection, your not going to be sneaking up on anything.
    I can see one at every circus or event that want themselves noticed, loose gravel/dirt flyover areas to really get some attention.

    On the other hand for Wildlife management this would be very helpful if there's a need to constantly "herd" animals;
    not to mention being fun as heck to fly.

  • by rjmx (233228)

    Now we're going to be deluged with nitwits careening about the place.

    Rich nitwits, but still nitwits.

  • The FAA has only one question: "What happens when it quits?"

    For whatever reason there you are you are 200+ feet in the air with NOTHING holding you up!

    Helicopters can autorotate (sorta) and save themselnes MOST of the time, but a jet pack?

    In aviation they refer to this as a "once in a lifetime event".

    • Maybe it should include a "dispersal charge" that activates if the engine fails above 100' AGL to insure that no large pieces of machine or pilot reach the ground.....

  • by Karmashock (2415832) on Tuesday August 13, 2013 @08:16PM (#44560405)

    To be a jet pack, I need to be able to carry it on my back. Walk around with it, and then take to the sky at will.

    That was the dream of the jet pack. That it would give a person the ability to walk around and then leap into the sky at will.

    This thing does fly... but you can't really walk with it.

    Its sort of like calling something a sea plane when it can't float. Yeah... it might fly... but... if it sinks when it hits the water its not a sea plane.

    This isn't a jet pack. Try again.

    • by gx5000 (863863)
      I guess the "Not so portable flying device" was ditched as a boring name huh ;)
  • A real world feasibility study regarding Jet Packs as a mainstream transportation tool: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8X18UYqzV0s [youtube.com] Needless to say the results are positively SHOCKING.
  • Be careful not to wear it upside down.
  • I can only see tow things coming out of this.... Putin Flying one to wow the crowds and Chuck Norris crashing one in the desert. Nice though, but still, a world where these would be flying around would be rather a dangerous place indeed since most people still haven't mastered driving.
  • This thing seems not better and much larger than the Hiller flying segway from 50 years ago. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hiller_VZ-1_Pawnee [wikipedia.org]
  • Where is Commando Cody when you need him?
  • All this needs is a microphone, loudspeaker and vocoder so you can convince all of the onlookers below that you are their supreme overlord.

The rich get rich, and the poor get poorer. The haves get more, the have-nots die.

Working...