back to article Kiwi jetpack gets all-clear for manned tests

A decade of testing is close to paying off for New Zealand company Martin Aircraft Company, which has announced that it has received certification to conduct manned test flights for its Martin Jetpack. The New Zealand Civil Aviation Authority has given the outfit the go-ahead to conduct manned flights of its twelfth prototype …

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  1. Chris G Silver badge

    Pedant Alert!

    This is not a jet pack it is a ducted fan pack.

    Other than the slightly worrying fact that it sounds like a pair of harmonising leafblowers... I want one!

    I bet it scares the hell out of all the Orcs lurking in the mountains.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Pedant Alert!

      So what comes out of the ducted fans then? As far as I'm concerned, it's a JET of air.

      Perhaps you're getting confused between 'jet' and 'turbine'?

      1. HMB
        Alert

        Re: Pedant Alert!

        I suppose by that logic if I pee hard I can call my man bits a jet pack.

        1. This post has been deleted by its author

        2. Arthur 1
          Devil

          Re: Pedant Alert!

          > I suppose by that logic if I pee hard I can call my man bits a jet pack.

          Way ahead of you... much to the chagrin of the miss.

    2. John Smith 19 Gold badge
      Happy

      Re: Pedant Alert!

      "This is not a jet pack it is a ducted fan pack.

      Other than the slightly worrying fact that it sounds like a pair of harmonising leafblowers... I want one!"

      On that basis it's actually better than a jet pack.

      No 1000c jet exhaust to burn anything it lands on.

      "I bet it scares the hell out of all the Orcs lurking in the mountains."

      Foolish Human.

      Orcs fear nothing.

  2. hplasm Silver badge
    Thumb Up

    I also

    want one.

    I wonder if I could land on the roof at work?

  3. M Gale

    But mythbusters sez it can't be dun!!!1

    Sorry. A little fed up of a couple of people I know coming out with stuff like that on just about everything. They seem to think that Stephen Fry is God as well.

    Thumbs up for the hover pack though.

    (and where did all the icons go?)

    1. A Non e-mouse Silver badge

      Re: But mythbusters sez it can't be dun!!!1

      (and where did all the icons go?)

      When composing your words, hit the "Add an icon" button above the title of your post.

    2. Evil Auditor Silver badge

      Re: But mythbusters sez it can't be dun!!!1

      M Gale, are you saying that Stephen Fry isn't God?! Surely, he's at least the God of Technology!

      (Why don't we have neither a Stephen Fry nor a God icon?)

      1. MJI Silver badge

        Re: But mythbusters sez it can't be dun!!!1

        Fry os not god of technology just god of sack people

        1. Ramiro
          Happy

          Re: But mythbusters sez it can't be dun!!!1

          I think three people didn't get the "sack people" reference, and thought it's something quite offensive. It isn't.

    3. 142
      Boffin

      Re: But mythbusters sez it can't be dun!!!1

      Ha! I believe they said you can't make one that won't kill you for less than 5000 dollars from plans downloaded from the internet - They're still right about that!

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I want one too

    (but with an extra parachute, just in case).

  5. jake Silver badge

    Do not want.

    As a pilot, I see too much to go wrong ...

    1. M Gale

      Re: Do not want.

      As a pilot, you'll know there's enough "aircraft" out there already that become something more akin to a brick should there ever be a loss of power. Granted, most of 'em are military.

      1. Steve Todd
        Stop

        Re: Do not want.

        I think you answered your own point there. Most civil types can make power-out emergency landings or, in the case of twin or more engines, can continue on to their destination. Power failure on one of these is going to result in a crash unless they have some type of BRS. Add to that there doesn't appear to be space for instruments so if you lose your ground reference you are likely to emerge from a cloud upside down.

        1. EddieD

          Re: Do not want.

          There's a small panel in front of the pilot for instruments

          1. Steve Todd

            Re: Do not want.

            You think that panel (a) would be visible inside of a cloud and (b) would be big enough for what is referred to by pilots as the Sacred Six in addition to the engine and fuel instruments?

            1. M Gale

              Re: Do not want.

              You think that panel (a) would be visible inside of a cloud...

              Yes. Especially with nice beefy backlights.

              Clouds are not quite as opaque as you think. You know when you wake up on a cold morning, look out of the window and see fog? That's a ground-level cloud, that is. You'll still see a couple of feet in front of you to the instrument panel.

              1. Evil Auditor Silver badge

                Re: Do not want.

                Clouds are not quite as opaque as you think

                True. But try riding a motorbike in the fog while wearing glasses. Then again, you probably won't enter a cloud with one of those jetpacks.

              2. Steve Todd

                Re: Do not want. @M Gale

                As it happens I have flown IFR in clouds. Just like fog the visibility is variable. At one extreme you have dozens of yards of visibility, at the other you can't see the prop spinning in front of you. Either way one of the first things that happens is that your windshield gets covered in droplets of water which, wearing a crash helmet, makes reading instruments on the far side of the visor tricky. Fitting a horizon, turn/slip, altimeter, VSI, DI,and ASI into that limited space and expecting it to be clearly legible in those conditions is, at best, optimistic.

                As to the folks who say "just don't fly into cloud", its a nice theory but in practice it happens, which is why student pilots are taught the basics of how to fly back out of it.

            2. DropBear Silver badge
              WTF?

              Re: Do not want.

              Fail to RTFA much...? From manufacturer spec [1]: "Computer aided stability : "Fly by wire", no-pilot control-input produces a zero air-speed hover." If in doubt, leggo the frackin' stick, 'mkay? Are you seriously suggesting this sort of system would ever LET you invert that aircraft, cloud or no cloud? Really? I guess you never got to the "Aircraft operating rules : Daylight and visual flight only" part either...

              [1] - http://martinjetpack.com/technical-information.aspx

              1. Steve Todd
                Stop

                Re: Do not want. -@DropBear

                So you're going to hover in cloud until the fuel gives out? The thing about clouds and weather is that it changes. You can set off thinking you're fine for VFR, only to find the cloud level descending. Always have a backup plan.

            3. James Micallef Silver badge
              Boffin

              Re: Do not want.

              "would be visible inside of a cloud"?

              Clouds aren't THAT dense... for example while flying through a cloud in a plane it's possible to see the wings through the window. If the panel is well designed and illuminated, this should not be a problem

              "would be big enough"?

              Depends on how much instrmentation is required. I suppose something the size of say a 21-inch monitor on a movable/lockable arm in front of the pilot's waist/chest (that could also double as a part of the harnessing mechanism) would do the trick

        2. rh587 Silver badge
          FAIL

          Re: Do not want.

          Watch the video of the 2011 test - it explicitly demonstrates it coming down on a ballistic parachute.

        3. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Do not want.

          BRS? Isn't that precisely how the demonstration was concluded?

          1. Steve Todd

            Re: Do not want.

            BRS has its limits also. The first is that you have no control over where you land. Again student pilots a drilled in selecting the safest landing zone, away from trees, power cables etc. The second is that you tend to come down quite fast, faster than a normal parachute. You can right the aircraft off using one, and seriously injure yourself to boot.

        4. Fruit and Nutcase Silver badge

          Re: Do not want.

          Perhaps the Martin Aircraft Company could get Martin-Baker to come up with a suitable mechanism to separate pilot and machine so that the former can land without getting injured by the latter falling on top of them. Not withstanding injuries obtained during the separation. The cost could be prohibitive for this application.

          http://www.martin-baker.com/

        5. xQx
          Thumb Up

          Re: Do not want.

          By virtue of most civil aircraft being winged objects or powered parachutes you are correct.

          That said, A helicopter without power doesn't make for a particularly comfortable landing, nor does a powered parachute when it's parachute knots up, regardless of power.

          The 'jetpack' is sold with an optional BRS (Ballistic [Parachute] Recovery System) for a survivable vertical landing without power.

          1. M Gale

            Re: Do not want.

            *coff*

            Helicopters do the whole auto-rotate thing. Disengage the clutch, maintain airspeed, it does a passable impression of a controllable sycamore seed.

            Probably still a pucker moment for the pilot though. He won't be shitting himself because it'll be clenched too tight!

      2. jake Silver badge

        Re: Do not want.

        As a pilot, I pay attention to details, and pick & choose what I fly.

        This isn't an option, near as I can tell.

    2. Lobrau

      Re: Do not want.

      Interesting. Care to enlighten us?

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Do not want. @Jake

      Is there anything you haven't done Jake? Your 15 years old (worked out form the quality of your posts), worked on the google network, are a pilot, and have done loads of other fantastic stuff. I'm in awe. Can I have you children? You do have children?

      On the other hand, you have the interpersonal skills of an amoeba.

      1. jake Silver badge

        Re: Do not want. @Jake

        "Is there anything you haven't done Jake?"

        Ballet comes to mind ... Bad knees. Hazard of riding horses & motorcycle racing.

        "Your 15 years old"

        Nope, I'm in my 50s. You're (note splelling) noted.

        "(worked out form the quality of your posts)"

        Have issues? Speak up.

        "worked on the google network"

        Absolutely fucking not. I wouldn't touch that clusterfuck with a bargepole. I was a TA for a couple of the founders, though ... Sadly, I failed in my mission.

        "are a pilot"

        Yes. It's a useful skill. Try it. See: http://forums.theregister.co.uk/forum/containing/699334

        "and have done loads of other fantastic stuff."

        Yes, I have. I call it "having a life".

        "I'm in awe. Can I have you children? You do have children?"

        I don't donate sperm to ACs. I have a child (29), and a grandchild (3ish).

        "On the other hand, you have the interpersonal skills of an amoeba."

        Of course. I get stuff done. Don't like it? Fuck you, you fucking fuck. <sfsf>

        1. Michael Wojcik Silver badge

          Re: Do not want. @Jake

          "and have done loads of other fantastic stuff."

          Yes, I have. I call it "having a life".

          Y'know, I'm a few years younger than Jake (though coincidentally my child is the same age as his, and my grandchild just a couple years younger); and while I haven't done all the same things he says he's done, my range of experiences is of the same order. I've been a professional software developer and published literary criticism. I've taught college and carved jewelry from bone. I've knapped flint arrowheads and installed plumbing. I've lived in Japan and corresponded with famous authors. I've testified in court and climbed a volcano. I've broken a finger and painted a house. I've been threatened by a madman (recently released from the psych ward) with a gun and driven 18 hours through night and fog. I've held a newborn and a casket, though fortunately never at the same time. I've done things I deeply regret and others that I'm a bit proud of.

          If you enjoy the moderate privilege typical of the middle class in a modern industrialized society, it's not hard to pack a life pretty damn full of stuff. Or you can waste your time criticizing those who have bothered to take advantage of opportunity.

          (I do recommend the bone carving, by the way. Lovely material to work with.)

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Do not want. @Jake

            I wish there was a "sincerity" icon, but since there isn't, you'll have to take my word for it.

            Thank you, sincerely, for this beautiful potted history and life lesson.

            AC because I don't want everyone to know I'm often a sentimental fool who blubs like an infant when I hear the sound of a minor chord.

            Looking forward to hearing the full "What a boy needs to know about being a man" speech some day.

            <wipes away tear>

            <gets back to "work">

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Do not want. @Jake

        you're, your, yaw, yawn.....

    4. Graham Marsden
      Boffin

      @jake - Re: Do not want.

      I bet you would have said the same to Wilbur and Orville...

      1. 1Rafayal

        Do Not Want

        I actually need one of these, it will be essential to my work and will increase my productivity.

      2. TRT Silver badge

        Re: @jake - Do not want.

        I wish I could fly, way up in the sky, but I can't.

        1. Busby

          Re: @jake - Do not want.

          Yes you can!

      3. jake Silver badge

        Actually, Graham ... (was: Re: @jake - Do not want.)

        In that era, I'd have been one of the dudes in the trenches, and probably would have volunteered to pilot it first time out. Innovation is good. Even if dangerous. (I drove for Dale Arneson nearly 30 years ago). I don't see anything innovative about the thingie in the OA.

    5. Professor Clifton Shallot

      Re: Do not want.

      "As a pilot, I see too much to go wrong ...

      What are the problems and how did you fix them on the one you made for your unicorn?

      I'm with you that this one doesn't look like something I'd want to entrust my life to - they claim that "the goal is to provide impact protection from 30 feet high" purely by the construction of the machine (roll cage, crumple zones etc) which is not tremendously encouraging as the ballistic parachute which is the only other survival tool for catastrophic failure is only rated down to "very low altitudes which I suspect leaves a considerable zone of peril that is it going to be difficult to design out.

      They want to make it safer than "similar light helicopters" - by which they mean safer than just about the most dangerous thing to take to the skies - not sufficient for me.

    6. Imsimil Berati-Lahn
      Pint

      Re: Do not want.

      I'm inclined to agree.

      My first thoughts were (cue 8 year old's voice) wow! cool!

      But then I imagined if everyone had one...

      Pub closing time would look like a mid-summer ants nest with lots of bizzare creatures wafting skywards uncontrollably, colliding, falling. Eeek.

  6. A Non e-mouse Silver badge

    Missing a laser

    I'll only consider buying one once they add on a laser.

    1. FartingHippo
      Happy

      Re: Missing a laser

      Upvote for provoking a misty-eyed reminiscence. All that joy in just 16kb...

      1. Danny 14 Silver badge

        Re: Missing a laser

        Just drop grenades over the side and take pictures. If your names is royals call yourself the royals flying corpse.

    2. David Pollard

      Re: Missing a laser

      Oh noes, flying sharks...

  7. stragen001

    Kiwi not Kiki

    Was trying to work out what the Kiki in the title referred to until I read they are in New Zealand and realised its a typo........

  8. Champ

    Goddamn cheap Japanese flying packs!

    I can't be the only one thinking of Woody Allen in Sleeper, can I?

  9. Busby

    Top speed?

    30 minute flight time doesn't tell youmuch without details on top and cruising speed.

    Would this actually allow me to commute which is around a 70 mile round trip?

    Quite impressed with the altitude but I wouldn't fancy being at 8000 feet during a thunderstorm.

    1. Jerren
      Boffin

      Re: Top speed?

      Per the companies website the max range is about 30KM which is about 18 miles, I'm afraid you'd have to stop for gas a few times. They have some not-so commuter friendly restrictions on it too: It's only useable during daylight, you cannot fly over urban centers, line of site only, and requires you to basically dress like a Indy driver in a fireproof flight suit, horse-collar and helmet.

      Not to mention that parachute won't help much at low level flight, and well nothing will help if you run into power lines or a building etc. (Of course if your in an urban setting flying into the building is misuse per the restrictions so forget the insurance payments and lawsuits against the manufacturer...)

      File under expensive toy but not bloody practical for those of us waiting for the flying car that folds into a brief case and rocket belts we were promised would be around by now when we were kids....

      1. Busby

        Re: Top speed?

        So bloody useless then, agree completely nothing but a toy. I'm betting a fun one to play with but a toy nonetheless.

        Then again there's always version two.

      2. rh587 Silver badge

        Re: Top speed?

        Define "low level". A BRS can deploy in as little as 260ft. Unless you go belly up during landing or takeoff (the most dangerous stage of any flight, whether you're flying fixed wing, rotary or "other"), then this should be relatively safe given most of your flight would surely be at 1000ft, but most likely making partial use of it's 8000ft ceiling.

        Flying into buildings or pylons is a hazard in any light aircraft, helicopter, ultralight or other aircraft that isn't following a monitored and defined route from ATC up to 30,000ft.

        And yeah. 45 litres for 30km is an expensive way to travel.

        I had thought it might have a niche application for those first responders who tool around single-crewed assisting ambulance crews and dealing with bits and pieces that perhaps don't need a full ambulance + crew. However, as the maximum payload (with full fuel) is 100kg including pilot and gear, you're going to need a skinny pilot and (s)he'll barely have enough spare capacity to carry a triangular bandage with them. They're going to need to work on the range/payload profile a bit.

        That said, it's an early product. Just as the Model T was. They will sell a few, because there are enough people out there with £130k to drop on a toy (which is pretty much what early motor cars were, barely a match for a horse and carriage beyond novelty value), and various militaries will have a few just to play with, even if they don't end up actually using them for anything.

        Ultimately one would hope they'll develop from there into something moderately useful.

        One has to congratulate them on bringing a vaguely saleable product to market in a mere decade compared to Paul Moller who has essentially nothing to show for 50 years of work beyond some pretty models and a collection of prototypes that can only fly with the assistance of a crane. Start small, get something to market and develop your product range once you've actually generated an income stream and have a working product to show prospective buyers and investors...

      3. dogged
        Stop

        Re: Top speed?

        We weren't promised flying cars. Unless you're over 60, you weren't either.

        We were promised a bleak, dirty, Orwellian cyberpunk dystopia.

        And it's very nearly here..

  10. Thomas 4

    There's potential

    I think the problem with jetpacks is that people immediately try to see them as a replacement for a plane or a car, rather than on their own merits.Just imagine if you had a few of these placed in mountainous areas or along cliff walk areas. You'd be able to reach someone more quickly than with a helicopter or plane.

    1. Fibbles

      Re: There's potential

      I thinks there's very little, if anything, that these jetpacks could reach that a helicopter with a winch could not. The helicopter also has the added bonus of being able to carry any kit you need and still have room to evacuate the injured/stranded in mountain rescue situations.

  11. frank ly

    Just wondering....

    "... users could drop into an ordinary service station for a top-up. "

    Would it be legal to do that in NZ? Or other places?

    1. defiler Silver badge

      Re: Just wondering....

      Dunno, but in the UK almost all petrol stations have roofs over them. I wouldn't fancy having to land this 25 feet from the pump and then drag it in - it looks a mite heavy!

  12. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Not especially subtle

    As far as obfuscation attempts go, this one's pretty crafty, but I've seen through it. We've been waiting for an earthly solution to this problem for so long, but the true source of the technology lies in the missing "a" in the company's name...

  13. Drew 11

    I could think of a lot more uses for this, before the age of "drones".

    Now, not so much.

  14. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Great leap forward but with only 30 mins flight time I cannot see much use for it tbh.

    1. Khaptain Silver badge
      Coat

      You could nip down to the "not so local, say 30kms away - where that fine secretary drinks" pub, have a pint or three, get back , park the jetpack in the garage, quietly, and the missus would think you had only been out walking the dog....

  15. stu 4

    Paramotor safer

    I'll stick with my paramotors.

    At least when the engine stops (and it does sometimes) I can glide back down.

    Oh yeh - and they cost 5K... so a bit more affordable.

    stu

    1. The First Dave Silver badge
      WTF?

      Re: Paramotor safer

      @Stu:

      I'd be interested to hear how you manage to get vertical take off with your prop-and-parachute?

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Paramotor safer

        Not vertical take off, but a standing take off: It's doable on a paraglider with the lightest puff of breeze and a bit of skill, so I imagine with a fan on your back it's easy peasy.

        1. stu 4

          Re: Paramotor safer

          yeh - lets call it short take off and landing.

          I don't think VTOL is the only thing this is selling as is it ? it's the 'personal transport' angle they are going for.

          And a paramotor is, I would argue, as practical (i.e. not at all), and a damn site safer and cheaper.

          I can't see any applications where VTOL is really required outside of military. As a flying toy which is surely what it is - I don't really get it.

          It would also not be legal to fly in the UK as not foot launch-able - unless you are superman.

  16. dorsetknob

    Yeh Exploding petrol (gasoline for US readers) Stations

    "Quote"

    And with conventional petrol (gasoline for US readers) powering the engine, CEO Peter Coker says users could drop into an ordinary service station for a top-up.""

    "Unquote"

    expect this to happen BIG BANG

    You can always smell a Petrol station because of the (explosive ) fumes in the air and are you willing to land a jet Pack in your petrol station with its very hot naked flame exhaust belching inches away from your Darwin sacks.

    Buy a Jet pack and immediately Qualify for a Darwin Award First Class

    1. M Gale

      Re: Yeh Exploding petrol (gasoline for US readers) Stations

      It uses ducted fans, not a turbine engine. It's about as likely to blow a service station up as a car is. Possibly less so.

    2. James Hughes 1

      Re: Yeh Exploding petrol (gasoline for US readers) Stations

      And yet the number of exploding petrol stations is, well, pretty small, when you consider the huge variety of different vehicles that fill up there - cars (Very very hot catalytic converters) - bikes - very hot two strokes. People with cigarettes on the go (yes, it does happen) etc. Number of exploding petrol stations. Zero.

      If you are going to disparage something, please pick an area that can actually be disparaged.

      1. phuzz Silver badge
        Boffin

        Re: Yeh Exploding petrol (gasoline for US readers) Stations

        Cigarettes can't ignite petrol. Movies have lied to you, if you drop a lit fag into petrol, it will put the cigarette out.

        That said, keeping fuel and fags apart can only be a good idea.

        1. Eradicate all BB entrants

          Re: Yeh Exploding petrol (gasoline for US readers) Stations

          But it is still quite disconcerting when you pull into a French petrol station where it seems smoking while filling is mandatory (I know the cigarette won't light it, but the constant attempts at getting his zippo to light wont help, also in times of protest an old winebox/plastic milk bottle is an acceptable container for fuel .... in a car boot ..... in 30c heat)

        2. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Yeh Exploding petrol (gasoline for US readers) Stations

          If you accidentally put an angle grinder through a petrol tank it also doesn't explode. There's a youtube vid of a guy mig welding a fuel tank without draining it first.

          I hear the modus operandi of thieving youngsters disposing of the evidence of their vehicular activities is to light a disposable barbeque under the tank to reliably get it going.

  17. Dixie Nourmous
    Alert

    If the engines stop and you have to deploy a parachute,isnt it going to ba a rather hard landing with all that kit attached to your back, as I thought in a normal (without a jet pack attached) landing you took some of the speed out by collaping to the floor as you touched earth, surely you wont be able to do this .. or am I completely wrong ?

  18. Andyf

    I absolutely want one of these. Especially if they can add winglets to the sides so that it can transition to level flight. Well, levelish if I'm at the controls.

    Would make my commute to work infinately more pleasurable, at the risk of a few broken windows on take off and landing.

  19. David 45
    Happy

    Smoke and mirrors

    Reckon there's a long piece of string attaching it to the helicopter!

  20. Ted Treen
    Boffin

    Hmmmm

    Ad a few strings to tie people to or for them to cling to...

    I think we've just seen Ryanair's next fleet...

  21. monkeyfish

    The manned test flights will first be conducted indoors, the company says.

    And with conventional petrol (gasoline for US readers) powering the engine, CEO Peter Coker says users could drop into an ordinary service station for a top-up.

    I can see nothing going wrong with either of these statements.

    1. Arthur 1
      Trollface

      Some clever engineer...

      Some clever engineer got passed up for a pay raise, and is currently writing the CEO's suicide note while convincing him to be the first tester.

      Plugged gymnasium air vents optional.

  22. ElReg!comments!Pierre Silver badge

    First responders, heh?

    "Martin Aircraft Company hopes to launch its first commercial units in 2014, aiming the technology at first responders "

    Haha. Is that earthy notes of utter bullshit mixed with a fragrance of complete bollocks that I smell? If you need speed and an aerial view, you have a copter. If you need fast access to ground (in a very dense jam) you have medic bikes. For everything else, ambulances are pretty good. This thing? Can't go very far, can't take much equipment aboard, can't get to ground in a busy place, can't carry an injured person to safety. It's probably pretty fun to operate, but not something a first responder would find particularly useful (well, until you fit it with a grenade launcher and a LASER and wait for the zombie outbreak)

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: First responders, heh? - A Motorcycle Responder (Ambulance) responds...

      I'm under 80Kg (dressed, but I only mention that as it's relevant). I'm only allowed (not that we fully adhere to this) to carry 10Kg in each pannier, generally enough to deal with most situations until a truck can arrive.

      Now I can see quite a few issues with the use of these particular devices, but the principle is very sound.

      There are potential uses where we might stick one or two of these, perhaps to cover a reasonable length of beach/coastline and related inland areas during peak holiday season, acting as the arial equivalent of motorcycle response to the helcopter's equivalence to a conventional ambulance, get there quickly, stabilise the casualty until more help can arrive.

      Leaving operationsl costs out of it, a decent chopper is well over a million pounds. A couple of these could, where terrain dictates (and allows) act as a "force multiplier" in the same way that motorcycles do (and I remember the opposition to them when they first came out, some similar to those being suggested now). Depending on solving issues with navigation, landing (and security of the craft whilst then being possibly a little way from it and otherwise occupied) and a few other things, I can see places in the UK where these could have a use. For other countries the case might be more compelling. I suppose the main factor really is effective speed.

      The vtol bit could also be realy helpful. I wouldn't be surprised if somewhere like NZ or Aus where people tend to be more "how can we make this work" wouldn't deploy these to an area where after a job there was a small bit of tarmac in each fuel station where one could land to refuel and return to a fully ready operational status, perhaps with a small secure locker to re-equip with meds. Simple, public spirited and community minded, alas often lacking here (or regulated out of existence).

      I'd give one a go.

      1. ElReg!comments!Pierre Silver badge

        Re: First responders, heh? - A Motorcycle Responder (Ambulance) responds...

        "perhaps to cover a reasonable length of beach/coastline and related inland areas during peak holiday season, acting as the arial equivalent of motorcycle response to the helcopter's equivalence to a conventional ambulance, get there quickly, stabilise the casualty until more help can arrive."

        That's the idea they base the bullshit on... but , from the company website:

        Range 30km

        Endurance (Flight time) 30 minutes.

        Maximum airspeed 40kts (74 km/h) = FP2

        Cruise speed 30kts (56km/h)

        That was my point, it rules out most real-world uses. Basically you have to get there first (say, on a truck). With a realistic air time of 20 minutes (to allow for a safety margin) all you can do is take a peak and get back down. It's not the equivalent of a motorcycle or a helicopter, it's at most a scouting device for the support truck that gets it on site and refuel it every half hour. Better take a small, cheap unmanned drone.

        Unless what you're doing is looking for a missing person, in which case I suppose the truck+hover pack is a cheaper alternative to a helicopter. Considerably slower, though, and you can't lift...

        Maintenance is required every 100 hrs too, I don't see this being cheap to operate.

  23. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Another Segway

    Hmmm, nice idea.

    But I see the Segway effect kicking in.

  24. Arthur 1

    Fuel Economy

    That "backpack" is huge, and I suspect the bulk of it is gas tank. Can't be very economical.

    Of course that makes sense, getting enough lift to keep a person plus itself at 8k feet for half an hour takes a ludicrous amount of energy. But that also relegates it to being little more than a toy, a very expensive to operate one at that. And the fuel limitation is fairly fundamental of a thing to work around, gravitational potential doesn't magically change, nor does fuel's energy density.

    Still, very impressive engineering. Back in the day people believed the fuel limitation would prevent these things from running more than a few minutes. I guess by scaling it up and making the parts more efficient they've made something at least usable for blowing off some steam in spectacular fashion. And that's pretty damn cool.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Fuel Economy

      so 100k+ and approx £55 per commute.

      Can I lease one as my company vehicle? My fuel card will get a hammering.

  25. Chris Sake

    Naysayers

    Yes, it is a prototype and pre-production...

    But:

    - shark spotting at beaches

    - fire locating in forests

    - herd location in outback stations or farms

    - traffic/crowd observation

    come to mind, with a quicker response time and at a lower cost than an aircraft or a helicopter. Though a paramotor could be utilised instead for some of these.

    Don't forget that the Martin Jetpack comes from a country that reputedly can fix anything with a fence post and a length of number 8 wire. Also, 31 March 1903 anyone?

  26. southen bastard

    Sounds like google glass was made for this,

    heads up display, google maps. face book , building

    Ooh that herts

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