July 29, 2008 9:53 AM   Subscribe

Take a look at this jetpack Is Adam Savage here?
posted by A189Nut (38 comments total)
A gas-powered, piston-engined jetpack that looks about 18 feet wide is the "world's first practical".

This article is full of win.
posted by DU at 10:07 AM on July 29, 2008 [1 favorite]

I think we know who can save Tinytown.
posted by shakespeherian at 10:08 AM on July 29, 2008

posted by not sure this is a good idea at 10:09 AM on July 29, 2008 [5 favorites]

"He calls it 'the world’s first practical jetpack' "

For serious? At £50,000, methinks its not so practical.

That, and the whole plumeting to the earth if you screw up thing, make me think that jetpacks are going to remain in dreamland for a while.
posted by plaidrabbit at 10:11 AM on July 29, 2008

Introducing the ultimate personal dying machine.
posted by punkfloyd at 10:12 AM on July 29, 2008 [6 favorites]

meh... 30 minutes of airtime... what purpose does it serve...loud, hot, dangerous... If I can't commute to my job and land on the roof, and drink a beer while I fly it, no thanks...
posted by HuronBob at 10:13 AM on July 29, 2008

posted by not sure this is a good idea at 1:09 PM
Am I parsing "cuil" correctly as "weak but thoroughly marketed?"... eponysterically?

Meta-est. Post. Evar.
posted by abulafa at 10:13 AM on July 29, 2008 [1 favorite]

Um...technically, the thing isn't actually a JETpack, is it? I suppose it sounds sexier than Prop-pack, though.
posted by Thorzdad at 10:15 AM on July 29, 2008

Is Adam Savage here?

How about Adam Strange?
posted by Halloween Jack at 10:24 AM on July 29, 2008 [1 favorite]

posted by Astro Zombie at 10:24 AM on July 29, 2008

Never underestimate the market for expensive toys.
posted by geoff. at 10:26 AM on July 29, 2008

Yeah, this is so not a jetpack. It may be a personal flying machine, it may be a prop-pack, it may, in fact, not be vaporware and actually be a device that can let people fly for short distances.

But it's not a jetpack. Come to think of it, jetpacks aren't really jetpacks either. They are rocketpacks, use hydrogen peroxide, and are dedicated to the eventual extinction of mankind by way of dropping us unexpectedly from great heights.

I'd still play with one in a heartbeat though. I'm up for nearly anything that will give me the opportunity to fly, even if for only 30 minute hops.
posted by quin at 10:38 AM on July 29, 2008

It's classed as an ultralight, so many of its limitations are artificial in order to avoid the need for certification or a pilot's license. Fuel capacity, range, and top speed are all limited by the ultralight classification.

That said, it looks like it has a range of 31 miles, which means you could do most commutes with it and still have an 11 mile (or ~33%) reserve. You'd have to gas up at work for the trip back, though. Even so, that means burning ~3 gallons each way, which works out to 6.7mpg for a 40 mile round trip commute. The top speed is only 63mph, too, so it's not much faster than driving if you can take a freeway.

I suspect 'expensive toy' is probably the best way to look at it. Although, with a pilot load of 280lbs, I would think a tandem model would be the way to go. Have an experience pilot fly you around for 20 minutes for a few hundred dollars a trip. I think there's a reasonable market for that, along the lines of casual skydiving.

Oh, the real site is here, but it's under pretty heavy load right now.
posted by jedicus at 10:40 AM on July 29, 2008

Don't think of it as a jetpack, think of it as a velocity-accelerator for recumbent bicycles!
posted by blue_beetle at 10:42 AM on July 29, 2008 [1 favorite]

Also, if we apply Moore's Law to this situation, in 5 years it will the size of a pencil and be able to lift an aircraft carrier!
posted by blue_beetle at 10:44 AM on July 29, 2008

But can it take off from a conveyor belt?
posted by the duck by the oboe at 10:54 AM on July 29, 2008

Yeah, this is great and all, but where the hell is my jetpack?! oh... wait.... nevermind
posted by Debaser626 at 11:08 AM on July 29, 2008

Oh my, don't bother with Adam Savage, is Dan Savage reading this:
‘I took some precautions,’ Mr Martin grinned. ‘I tied the thing to a pole in the garage so Vanessa wouldn’t go flying through the roof.’
Think of the possibilities!
posted by Kattullus at 11:12 AM on July 29, 2008

I dream of a future replete with jetpacks, flying cars, and people not trying to coax asavage into acknowledging them.
posted by katillathehun at 11:18 AM on July 29, 2008 [1 favorite]

Like most of you I was raised with the promise of moon colonies, robot butlers and, yes, jetpacks, so I tend to pay attention when they're mentioned. Now, I'm no jetpack engineer, but if this contraption can stay aloft for 30 minutes it would be a huge improvement over other contemporary designs. My admittedly-hazy memory informs me that other personal flight devices have an average flight time around 15 minutes and cost considerably more. You can rent a rocket pack for the same amount the inventor is planning on selling these for.

I say right-fucking on, and this is a good step in the right direction though I'd bet it's vaporware. Still, it's progress.
posted by lekvar at 12:43 PM on July 29, 2008

The top speed is only 63mph, too, so it's not much faster than driving if you can take a freeway.

Makes commuting from Santa Cruz a lot easier.
posted by yort at 12:54 PM on July 29, 2008


This is not progress. This is dead-end convergent technology masquerading as progress and only serves as a slap in the face for those who, like me, really want a proper jetpack. I want one slim enough to wear while I'm in my Aston Martin DB9, would I ever need to shoot off before someone attacks me with a rocket launcher.

This contraption wouldn't even fit on the short bus. Paaardon me, I need to get out so I can take off! Paaardon me!
posted by jimmythefish at 1:37 PM on July 29, 2008

meh... 30 minutes of airtime... what purpose does it serve.

rocketbelts only run for 21 seconds (which is one reason they never took off... haha!SorryICouldn'tHelpMakingThatJoke). Jet packs managed to get up to 10 minutes.

A 30 minute flight time is probably equivalent to two or three hours by car in congested cities, especially those with bridge bottlenecks that no-longer apply. So it's easily useful for commuting. If you want to die. :-)
It could reduce a 45 minute drive to work to ten minutes.

And with the $100k price tag (and potentially high pilot attrition rate) there is no immediate risk of the airways becoming as congested as the roads :)

I suspect the same might be true of these as microlights though - apparently, there are a lot of microlight accidents not because the machines are unsafe, but because after the initial thrill wears off, they get kind of boring, so people address the boredom of flight by flying them in... more interesting ways... which leads to... failure to survive.
posted by -harlequin- at 2:58 PM on July 29, 2008

1. 63 Mph is 63 Mph in the Air!.
2. 30 min. flight is 30 min. FLIGHT.

Now I agree that it's not a proper jetpack but it's a heck of an improvement and blue_beetle is right; materials science will bring it down in size and cost.

All is ask is " Mr Moller , where is your God now?"
posted by djrock3k at 3:37 PM on July 29, 2008

Needs more Jetsons.
posted by bwg at 3:45 PM on July 29, 2008

An emergency parachute? That'll be a lot of help when it cuts out at 500 feet.
posted by alby at 4:28 PM on July 29, 2008

Couldn't be bothered to punctuate, could you?
posted by ghastlyfop at 4:45 PM on July 29, 2008 [1 favorite]

I sneer at you mob and your demands for practicality and survivability. I want one, and I'm afraid of heights.
posted by pompomtom at 5:16 PM on July 29, 2008

Here I am. Wetblanketfilter.

Am I the only one that sees 2 guys guiding this thing? I know I'm not but here's the thing: The bugbear with this type of vehicle isn't getting airborne, it's stability. He says that it can go to 8k feet for 1/2 hour. That's theoretically. I see a device going 1 foot off the ground with 2 big guys guiding it. In fact, I've seen not a single untethered pic.

I'd love it to be true, but I see too many warning flags. Sounds like a money raising stunt. Every time one of these companies is about to run out of money, they hold a "demonstration" and make a prediction that they'll be selling them within some short period of time. I doubt it. Moller's been predicting that people will be flying to work in 10 years, for the last 40 years.

Trek Aerospace spent millions on the stability problem, still are. Until I see this thing fly around a house without a tether and under the control of the driver, it's still snake oil. It's no better than that bloody Moller skycar imho.
posted by asavage at 5:27 PM on July 29, 2008 [7 favorites]

A 200HP single cylinder motorcycle engine?

I am doubtful.
posted by five fresh fish at 5:30 PM on July 29, 2008

Don't think of it as a jetpack, think of it as a velocity-accelerator for recumbent bicycles!

Go got it!
posted by humannaire at 9:16 PM on July 29, 2008

A 200HP single cylinder motorcycle engine? I am doubtful.

The article got that much wrong, at least. It's a V4.
posted by George_Spiggott at 9:58 PM on July 29, 2008

asavage for the win. It's just like the roughly once-a-year perpetual motion/free energy machine that makes the blogrounds, there's always some story about how "experts" say it could work this time, and the foolish government agency that's bought into it, and the demonstration coming Real Soon Now that never pans out.

It's getting so that, if it makes Digg with a headline like "Awesome JETPACK invented! Where will you fly yours?", I'm automatically skeptical. (Increasingly, if makes Digg at all I'm skeptical.)
posted by JHarris at 2:47 AM on July 30, 2008

> An emergency parachute? That'll be a lot of help when it cuts out at 500 feet.

Actually, ballistic parachutes can work from a pretty low altitude. They are designed to inflate very quickly.
posted by cosmac at 6:30 AM on July 30, 2008

Adam Savage (and others), here is a video with the device flying untethered:

2:18 to 2:58 is where it's flying unassisted. Now a couple of big guys run along next to it in case it needs help, and they do touch the rails a couple of times near the beginning, but there's at least 20s of time when it's flying without them touching it, and it seems to be under very solid control.

Now, until they're willing to demo it at an airshow without people holding onto the sides, or ready to hold onto the sides, it's almost certainly not practical or ready for use by non-expert pilots (where the only expert is at this stage the inventor).

I'm surprised that they aren't using some fly-by-wire system for it with a computer translating the pilot's commands while handling the instability. If the F-117 can use 20-year-old computers to do these same kinds of calculations, modern computers should be able to handle keeping something like this stable while not adding much significant weight or complexity.
posted by immerc at 10:59 AM on July 30, 2008 [1 favorite]

asavages comment is on the article over at boingboing gadgets.

posted by dr. moot at 1:32 AM on July 31, 2008

Can you solve the stability problem with a variable speed flywheel? Speed it up to go straight, slow it down to turn. As a bonus, it will store 1.5 seconds of power for a quick burst of speed so you can hit the ground at slightly less than terminal velocity when your engines fail. Also, it needs a rotating mirror to target humans from space.
posted by Caviar at 6:28 AM on August 5, 2008

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