Last week, the chief executive (and chief test pilot) of Van Nuys, Calif.-based JetPack Aviation strapped on the company’s new JB-9 model machine and took a spin around Monaco–in the air and over water. If you don’t believe it, just check out this video of the flight. These are the same guys who flew around the Statue of Liberty last year.
According to this report from Popular Mechanics, the company is in the process of making another model, the JB-10, which it hopes will stay in the air for 10 minutes and reach speeds of 100 MPH. They’re hoping to sell it for about $250,000 and they’ve launched a crowdsourcing campaign that values the company at more than $50 million.
JetPack Automation’s founders have been working on the technology for more than 40 years, according to the company’s website. Their latest product is equipped with systems to start and cool engines, manage fuel and capture data to display to the pilot. Better battery technology is in the works and the company is hoping to convert its energy source from aviation fuel to electric by 2019.
What’s the potential for jetpacks, other than if you’re James Bond? Search and rescue, evacuation, troop positioning and ultimately a “practical, personal VTOL (Vertical Takeoff and Landing) aircraft for point-to-point transport” the company says.
The company says it makes the “world’s only true jetpack,” which it defines as “a jet turbine-powered backpack capable of vertical takeoff and landing.” But JetPack Aviation has plenty of competition, including Martin Jetpack, a company that plans to begin commercial sales of similar product in 2017 and Jetpack International, whose pilots ran a test flight over Dublin earlier this year.
Humans flying in the air? Looks like the entrepreneurs creating jetpack technologies will join those making driverless cars, autonomous trucks, drones and “hyperloop” propulsion transportation systems to change the way we all get around in the very near future.