The jetpack- easily one of the most iconic symbols of “the future” in pop culture. If you want to establish that your world is technologically advanced, then you must show a character flying around with their own personal jetpack. Unfortunately, our world is severely lacking in the jetpack department. They exist, yes, but only for a select few. The rest of us will have to make do with a jet suit.
Meet Gravity Industries
Developed by Gravity Industries, the Gravity Jet Suit is a harness equipped with five jet engines. It is made from 3D-printed black aluminum and “feels like a bulky knapsack with a scuba diving oxygen tank attached,” according to CNBC’s Ray Parisi. The tank is filled with something far less combustible than oxygen, however- the reservoir is filled with five gallons of jet fuel. Said fuel is ushered to the engines using plastic tubes.
The suit reaches a top speed of 30 MPH. Thanks to the thrusters in each hand, the wearer is able to pilot their speed, amplitude, and direction. The total propulsion of the jet suit is 1050 horsepower- approximately one and a half Indy racecars. Gravity Industries CEO and former British Royal Marine Richard Browning first set out to facilitate human flight in early 2016. By October, he had completed a prototype. This was named the “Daedalus Mk. 1,” and Browning claimed it could reach speeds of 200 MPH. His son had christened the device- thankfully the child hadn’t picked the name “Icarus.”
In the space of a few months, the oil trader had found a way to become a superhero: an IRL Tony Stark. The Gravity Industries startup was officially launched in April of 2017. “We see Q4 2017 as the point where we have a world-class market-leading technology, which has endless applications in the commercial, military, and entertainment market. It’s not just the suit in its current form that we will commercialize, but the technology behind it,” he told Fox News. By 2018, the jet suit as we know it was completed and ready for almost-mass production. Even still, Browning is continually tweaking his creation, working on improving its stability and making it more accessible.
At its current state, it’s not exactly cheap, and it’s unlikely to be the next big Christmas gift. A custom suit will set you back about $440,000. However, while commissioning a personal jet suit is out of the question for most, there are other ways to experience the thrill. Gravity Industries offers 90-minute hands-on sessions at their hangar outside London. It’s still expensive, but it offers the same exhilaration for far less than owning a jet suit.
For those with a fear of heights, Gravity Industries hosts events both on-site and off. These include speaking engagements and live demonstrations. As of this writing, the company has held four TED Talks and two Wired events showing off the jet suit. And don’t worry if you live outside of England. Browning and his team have traveled across the globe to show off their tech, from Thailand to Brazil to New York City. With a suit as mobile as theirs, it’s easy to come to you. (Except they don’t actually travel by jet suit. A missed opportunity, honestly.)
Jet packs are still the pinnacle of future technology in the eyes of mainstream media. After all, is it really a future if people aren’t zipping across the skies like a superhero? But what they fail to realize is that those days are already here. It may not be with a traditional jet pack, but the Gravity Jet Suit completes the same task- and without the need for special effects.
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