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Transportation Technology

World's First Commercial Jetpack Arrives Next Year 119

An anonymous reader writes: The good news is that soon, you'll finally be able to buy that jetpack you've always wanted. The bad news is that it'll run you about $150,000. The Martin Jetpack will use fans, rather than rockets, to lift humans weighing up to 120kg (~256 lbs). Its makers say it can reach altitudes of up to 1 kilometer, and fly for up to 30 minutes at a time. The jetpack will be sold commercially to emergency services next year, and then a smaller, personal version will hit the market in 2017.
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World's First Commercial Jetpack Arrives Next Year

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  • by Frobnicator ( 565869 ) on Friday June 26, 2015 @05:55PM (#49998617) Journal

    lift humans weighing up to 120kg (~256 lbs)

    So basically half of Americans are excluded. Got it.

    On a more serious note, there is NO WAY I'd do it. Not because it wouldn't be cool to fly through the air, I'd love that part...

    ...It is the landing on the rock hard ground I'm concerned about.

    • ...It is the landing on the rock hard ground I'm concerned about.

      From the article:

      along with a low-altitude parachute for use should things go wrong.

      I wouldn't use it without a parachute either. With an emergency parachute... um.... probably. After a few other brave souls try it first.

      Also, 30 minutes is waaay better than the versions we've seen previously, which could only operate for a few minutes at a time. And... I guess we're still calling it a "jetpack" even though it's just using turbofans? I guess there's no other commonly-known term to describe it?

      • by Obfuscant ( 592200 ) on Friday June 26, 2015 @06:25PM (#49998873)

        I wouldn't use it without a parachute either.

        A parachute will be particularly useless when the pilot loses control at 100 feet above ground and is headed down at 100 fps. It will be more of a shroud over the body than an actual "save the pilot" device. Its main safety function will be to keep passers-by from tossing their lunch from seeing the mangled splat.

        • Specifically designed low-altitude parachutes are effective at a few hundred feet. No, it won't save you at extreme low altitudes and velocities, but it's certainly better than nothing. The phrase "Perfect is the enemy of the good" comes to mind.

          • Well, I guess it depends on expected flight altitude, doesn't it?

            If you're going to stay under, say, 200 feet ... you're pretty much screwed. Call it twice your "few hundred feet" ... then it's still half your flight envelope. Much over 1000 feet and would you even be using a jetpack?

            Yes, "perfect is the enemy of the good" in some cases ... but "never going to be useful enough to work" might also come up here. And if your emergency parachute for your jetpack means free-fall under "a few hundred feet" the

            • Just watched the video, and Martin reps are claiming the parachute system will start functioning in just a few meters. As Ellis mentioned below, this obviously must mean they're ejecting and inflating the parachute via some sort of mortar, and as such, it probably starts working almost instantly.

              I wouldn't be surprised if the parachute was automatically triggered, as it's pretty simple to detect freefall acceleration or a catastrophic engine failure, although this is just my sceculation. So, in this case,

              • Martin reps are claiming the parachute system will start functioning in just a few meters. As Ellis mentioned below, this obviously must mean they're ejecting and inflating the parachute via some sort of mortar, and as such, it probably starts working almost instantly.

                As I wrote in my initial post (surprised it was first post, weird) those are still my biggest concern. The comments in the articles and videos they make to not comfort those fears.

                Have you ever fallen from "just a few meters?" I have.

                As a child I fell from the monkey bars at school, also "just a few meters". I landed badly on the schoolyard gravel designed to help reduce injury and still broke my leg badly.

                My daughter also once slipped while running on wet ground, fell and twisted her leg badly. (Genet

                • Heh, you don't have to tell me how painful short falls can be, as I've also had my own rather nasty injury at a very close proximity to the ground (albeit down a couple of steps).

                  The point is that that anything *above* a few meters - which is where you're likely to be flying the vast majority of the time - should be much safer, since the parachute should deploy at those higher altitudes. We'll have to see what the safety limit actually is in practice, but again, this is like seatbelts and airbags for cars.

                • Sorry, Mr. Nanny, it can't be made perfectly safe in all conditions for all possibly failure modes. Same with automobiles, conventional aircraft, downhill skiing, and, well, everything.

                  By your logic, and fears, motorcycles should *definitely* be outlawed.

                  • by KGIII ( 973947 )

                    Where did they recommend outlawing it? The only suggestion that they made was that they would not, personally, be using it. I do not see any comment that indicates they would like to outlaw this device. By your logic I am a purple people eater? I think you failed the whole logic thing and should likely just stick to chewing bubble gum and watching fish.

                    Then again, I will offer you an easy out, you may have just missed what they wrote due to your biases and thinking you have something to "win." Alternatively

                    • Whenever someone on slashdot offers a non right wing tough guy argument against something, people jump on it saying that the limp-writsted liberal wants to ban it.

                      It's knee jerk libertarianism.

          • Specifically designed low-altitude parachutes are effective at a few hundred feet. No, it won't save you at extreme low altitudes and velocities, but it's certainly better than nothing.

            To quote a friend describing the first of the micro-nuts (rock climbing protection equipment), "they [blackdiamo...ipment.com]might not stop you, but they'll sure as hell slow you down!".

            With strengths (breaking loads) from 2 to 6 kN, you don't need to fall very far for a nicro-nut to pull. But in doing so, it absorbs a considerable amount of energy

          • You weren't paying much attention, it didn't say a few hundred meters, it said a few meters. Less than that and there would likely be no serious injuries anyway.
            Source: https://www.youtube.com/watch?... [youtube.com]
        • by Ellis D. Tripp ( 755736 ) on Friday June 26, 2015 @06:45PM (#49999019) Homepage

          They have a specially designed ultra low altitude chute. It is fired from a mortar, and gets blown into a nearly open canopy shape by the blast that deploys it.

          Doesn't need hundreds of feet of freefall to inflate it.

          • That chute won't help when either of the rotors is broken. The Martin "Jetpack" will nicely rotate and the chute, deployed at any altitude, will get entangled within fractions of a second.
            There is a reason why 80% of Youtube footage of the Martin is still unmanned flight.

        • "Opens on impact" :)

      • by I'm New Around Here ( 1154723 ) on Friday June 26, 2015 @06:47PM (#49999047)

        And... I guess we're still calling it a "jetpack" even though it's just using turbofans? I guess there's no other commonly-known term to describe it?

        I'd call it a personal helicopter.

      • And... I guess we're still calling it a "jetpack" even though it's just using turbofans? I guess there's no other commonly-known term to describe it?

        I guess. What else do we call it? TurboFanPack...FanPack?

        I don't like it any of it.

      • And... I guess we're still calling it a "jetpack" even though it's just using turbofans? I guess there's no other commonly-known term to describe it?

        Holy crap ... looking at the picture of this thing I'd say "jetpack" is not what we want to say, and it has nothing to do with the technology.

        To me "jetpack" implies something man-portable like a backpack. Not some frame you strap yourself into .. that thing is bigger than a damned motorcycle.

        It's neat looking. But this is somewhere between an exoskeleton and

        • The problem with fiction based jet packs, is that the physics just doesn't work. Energy density required means very short flight time with supersonic jets that will rip/burn your legs off.
          • Yeah, but the concept of what a jet pack is has already crept into our minds.

            So when someone comes along with a single-occupant aircraft you fly in an upright position, and calls is a jetpack, the only thing people think is "maybe a small plan, or a personal helicopter ... but jetpack? Not likely".

            Because, you will note, there was an actual real thing used in real James Bond movies which set our expectations.

            A stand up, open air cockpit helicopter isn't it.

          • by KGIII ( 973947 )

            Umm... We do have working jetpacks already. I am not sure that you can buy one (I suspect you can) but you could easily build one. Some dude was flying around in one back in the 50s or 60s for the US military.

      • by Khyber ( 864651 )

        " I guess we're still calling it a "jetpack" even though it's just using turbofans?"

        Well, what else would you call JETS of air?

      • by mysidia ( 191772 )

        I wouldn't use it without a parachute either. With an emergency parachute... um....

        An emergency parachute is no panacea. If something goes wrong... first of all, well, the parachute can fail to open..... the shock from the parachute opening can be painful, even if not as painful as freefall into the ground.

        With little/no control of where you're going.... You can land at a very inopportune place, such as grazing/crashing into the side of a building, being impaled by a vehicle antennae, having the

      • A turbofan is a jet, no other commonly-known term needed.

        • Sorry, I need to correct myself. I typed "turbofan", which is not what the summary or article said. A turbofan is a type of jet, of course, but I believe these are simply using normal ducted fans. So I guess it's not actually a jet, strictly speaking.

          I think it's a lot more accurate to call this a single-person VTOL aircraft than a "jetpack", but that doesn't sound nearly as sexy I guess.

      • by KGIII ( 973947 )

        And... I guess we're still calling it a "jetpack" even though it's just using turbofans? I guess there's no other commonly-known term to describe it?

        I suggest we start calling them fanny-packs.

      • by tlhIngan ( 30335 )

        Also, 30 minutes is waaay better than the versions we've seen previously, which could only operate for a few minutes at a time. And... I guess we're still calling it a "jetpack" even though it's just using turbofans? I guess there's no other commonly-known term to describe it?

        The Bell Aerospace rocket belt (what we used to call jetpacks) only worked for up to 30 seconds at a time. More commercial versions again, 30 seconds.

        It's why those water jet things that use a jetski are so popular - sure you're tether

      • I propose: turbo fanny pack!
    • It's possible that future, recreation-oriented versions could limit the speed you can descend at when close to the ground, making it impossible to land too quickly.

  • Same company promised it'd be ready all ready. [slashdot.org] If it works and does go to market, good someone finally succeeded in making a jetpack. Until then, it's just a small-minded person's flying car pipe dream.
    • by Anonymous Coward

      Also note that the man who's pipe dream it was has now left the company. Apparently he didn't agree with the direction things were going.

      • He left not because it isn't working. It's no pipe dream, their aircraft have been flying for a few years now. He left because the board declared that a personal, consumer version of the aircraft was not a priority. The whole reason he started the company was so that eventually he could have a personal "jetpack", but once the company went public, the board had to look at risk vs return and decided to make the consumer version their lowest priority. He didn't like that, so he left. He can always buy a consum

  • So not a jetpack (Score:4, Insightful)

    by rminsk ( 831757 ) on Friday June 26, 2015 @05:57PM (#49998639)
    It is more like a ducted fan flying platform that the pilot is strapped to. This is closer to a Hiller VZ-1 Pawnee direct lift aircraft than a jetpack.
  • And cue the screams of the people who think they can just buy one, strap it on, and ascend to 1km ... without a pilot's license. For yes, even more so than for drones, these will be classified as manned aircraft and there are already tons of federal regulations regarding operations of such.
    • Re:Licenses (Score:5, Informative)

      by PopeRatzo ( 965947 ) on Friday June 26, 2015 @06:20PM (#49998833) Journal

      And cue the screams of the people who think they can just buy one, strap it on, and ascend to 1km

      But it will make for some very amusing Darwin Awards.

    • by hawguy ( 1600213 )

      And cue the screams of the people who think they can just buy one, strap it on, and ascend to 1km ... without a pilot's license. For yes, even more so than for drones, these will be classified as manned aircraft and there are already tons of federal regulations regarding operations of such.

      Are you sure a pilots license is required? No license is required to fly an Ultralight aircraft.

      Though I doubt that anyone with $150K to spend on one of these things is going to cringe at spending a few thousand more on training -- nor would they be dumb enough to try to fly one without testing and/or certification.

      • No, a pilots license wouldn't be required, but your local aviation administration will have rules regarding their use (cruise levels, flight over populated areas, all the normal stuff).

      • Re:Licenses (Score:5, Interesting)

        by Obfuscant ( 592200 ) on Friday June 26, 2015 @07:57PM (#49999471)

        Are you sure a pilots license is required? No license is required to fly an Ultralight aircraft.

        The definition [ecfr.gov] of "ultralight" includes: "(4) Has a power-off stall speed which does not exceed 24 knots calibrated airspeed." I.e., it must not stall if you go faster than 24 knots. If your fans stop and you're still going 40 knots (74 kph), but you have zero lift, you've stalled. As you fall you will reach terminal velocity. That will probably be more than 24 knots, but you will still have zero lift.

        I don't see any technical details other than planned cruise speed, but if it carries more than 5 gallons of fuel or weighs more than 254 pounds dry, it also isn't an ultralight.

        If it is an ultralight, the prohibition [ecfr.gov] that it cannot be operated over congested areas of cities, towns, or settlements, or over any open-air assembly of persons makes this a pretty expensive toy.

        While there is no legal definition of "congested area", the FAA has said it will be determined on a case by case basis, and cases come about when someone complains. So, if you're flying one of these things over someone's head and they complain, you are going to have to defend yourself.

  • ...since Tomorrowland [imdb.com] was such a shank job. Like 'more cow bell' solved SNL's problems: More jetpacks, disney!
  • by koan ( 80826 )

    Bringing a whole new meaning to the word drone.

  • Now you'll have people flying in on these things, getting into situations that they're unprepared for and they'll need rescuing as well. I'm waiting for the first time one of these falls out of the sky and kills somebody on the ground. It'll be a field day for the lawyers. Preparing popcorn now...

  • I'm sure many others will point this out, but don't call it a jet pack if it's not a jet pack! I guess I'll call my Mini Copper a flying car since I can drive it on the high way too.

  • Emergency services? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Shoten ( 260439 ) on Friday June 26, 2015 @08:30PM (#49999595)

    The video shows floods, earthquake areas, even people trapped in burning buildings. And they talk about how these machines are somehow going to help.

    Here's the problem:

    (Flooded area...Jetpack Guy flies in near house with a family of 4 on top of it, as the flood waters rise...)
    Jetpack Guy: "Hey, you guys look like you could use a little help!"
    Family of 4: "Yeah,we sure could, Jetpack Guy! How about you fly us to safety?"
    Jetpack Guy: "Ah, sorry about that...I've only got a weight limit of about 250 pounds, and on top of that, the weight would destabilize the pack. How about I just keep you company until you drown?"

    (Earthquake-ravaged area...Jetpack Guy flies into the city, and lands...)
    Jetpack Guy: "Hey, you guys look like you could use a little help!"
    Earthquake Survivors: "Yeah, we sure could, Jetpack Guy! How about some food, water, shelter, or sanitation? Or equipment so we can rescue people trapped under tons of rubble? Fortunately, most of us are still alive, and we've got manpower to spare, but all basic services have been wiped out and there are people buried alive who need to be excavated!"
    Jetpack Guy: "Ah, sorry about that...I've only got a weight limit of about 250 pounds, so all I could bring was these two shovels. How about I just keep you company for a while? It's not like one more person will add an extra burden to the lack of food, drinking water, or sanitation...right?"

    Yeah, thanks a lot, Jetpack Guy. Fuckin' prick.

    • (Flooded area...Jetpack Guy flies in near house with a family of 4 on top of it, as the flood waters rise...)

      Jetpack guy sees problem, calls in real helicopter.....

      All of your scenarios imply that Mr. Jetpack has to save the day by him / her self. Real rescues are a team sport.

      That said, it isn't a compelling sort of thing to own. Expensive, likely cranky of maintenance and training. Limited range. More useful to get a bunch of cheap drones and running around looking for people to help.

      • by tomhath ( 637240 )

        Jetpack Guy flies in near house with a family of 4 on top of it, as the flood waters rise.

        With only 30 minutes of flight time and only the pilot on board I'd say that's not a good application either. A helicopter with pilot and copilot that can stay up for a couple of hours would be far more practical.

      • by Shoten ( 260439 )

        (Flooded area...Jetpack Guy flies in near house with a family of 4 on top of it, as the flood waters rise...)

        Jetpack guy sees problem, calls in real helicopter.....

        All of your scenarios imply that Mr. Jetpack has to save the day by him / her self. Real rescues are a team sport.

        That said, it isn't a compelling sort of thing to own. Expensive, likely cranky of maintenance and training. Limited range. More useful to get a bunch of cheap drones and running around looking for people to help.

        All of my scenarios imply...correctly...that there aren't helicopters on standby with nothing currently going on. Helicopters have several times the range, several times the capacity, and several times the speed of one of these things. They can do everything the jetpack can do, do it better, and more importantly, they can do a lot more. This is why helicopters go do these things. When these events happen, the helicopters are entirely busy, and not because they're just wandering around for someplace to b

        • These aren't the "stranded hiker in the woods" scenario where having more eyes is more important than having more hands. These are the "holy shit, the logistics of helping these people are fucking overwhelming" problems, which are definitely not served by flying in one more mouth to feed who doesn't have his own supplies, much less anything to help the others.

          Actually, it's worse than just "one more mouth to feed", it's one more potential medical casualty to rescue.

          Fanpack guy flies in, sees family stranded on roof by flood waters. Notices fuel is low, and needs to land. Only places to come down are: a) water, b) treetop, c) pointy roof. None of those options seem like a good idea, but one of them is going to be put to the test very soon.

    • Easy solution: Have a 10-year-old fly it into the areas, and then he/she can save other children while their parents die horrible deaths.

    • Ah, but you forgot the clincher: jetpack guy rescues a crying baby wrapped in a blanket from a burning skyscraper.

      After the first one of these gets shown live on TV, every fire/emergency service in the world is going to have to buy one.

  • by russotto ( 537200 ) on Friday June 26, 2015 @09:03PM (#49999721) Journal
    Would be great for commuting from NJ to NYC. I imagine the FAA and Homeland Security won't be allow it though. But if they did, at $150,000? WORTH IT.
  • by Tyr07 ( 2300912 )

    I can use it as the only way to get into my secret island fortress?

    Emergencies could potential use them, but smaller and lighter for a single person, or it needs to be able to carry at least a second passenger, so you're looking at 300-500 lbs carry weight to be truly useful. Then in hard to reach places, they can actually bring someone down.

  • guess fashion is doubling back on us.
  • Its a wearable helicopter. Its also so big and bulky that it isn't especially portable.

    The concept of a jet pack was supposed to be a backpack a guy puts on flies around... and then walks inside with the pack... not even bothering to take it off because it isn't an encumbrance.

    That thing is f'ing huge.

    Even at 25 percent of its current size it would be annoying.

  • wow, its finally come true. What we see in the movies and TV does come true http://www.dailymotion.com/vid... [dailymotion.com]
  • Hehheh...it looks similar to the jetpack in the Simpsons episode Sky Police (S26E16).
  • So they're saying prior non-commercial Jet-Packs were industrial strength?

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