We may as well face up to the fact that the future of powered personal transport is electric bikes, not jet packs. If humans can’t be trusted not to eat cereal or text their friends while driving, then imagine the chaos if we’re allowed to zoom around in the air.
And just as we all come to this sad conclusion, the Martin Jetpack might finally be ready for production. Not only does it look all sci-fi and future-y, it uses a regular gas engine to power its fans (so it’s a jetless jetpack), flies at up to 45 mph and can reach an altitude of around 3,000 feet. It sounds just perfect for rich men in their mid-life crises.
Realistically though, a jetpack is much better for things like search and rescue or medical emergencies. A single paramedic can be deployed into terrain impossible to reach on foot, or by car or helicopter, and they can can do it in a vehicle that’s relatively easy to fly, so you don’t need to be a trained pilot. You can be a trained paramedic, which is far more useful.
The downside is that the Martin Jetpack’s payload is just 265 pounds. That’s going to make it difficult to affect the “rescue” part of search and rescue. The upside is a low-altitude parachute that not only saves the pilot but also gives the vehicle a soft landing.
If all goes well, commercial available will start next year, with the jetpacks going for $150,000 per unit. According to Reuters, and to Martin’s own press materials, Chinese company KuangChi Science is putting USD $40 million in the project, and a the awesomely-named Beijing Flying Man Science & Technology company has ordered 100 manned jetpacks, plus a selection of unmanned units and simulators.
All of which gives us hope that this might actually make it to market.