This Award-Winning Invention Lets You Fly Like Iron Man

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Ever wish you could take flight like one of your favorite superheroes? That reality might not be far off: A personal jet pack has hit the market. But if you're not ready to commit six figures to your new hobby, you can check it out first at the Museum of Science and Industry's Wired to Wear exhibit.

Fashion Forward

Wearable tech has changed the way we think of fashion by merging clothing with technology. From immersive jackets to accessories that make us healthier, wearables have given greater purpose to what we put on our bodies. The Gravity Jet Suit is a shining example. Once just a thing of futuristic fantasies, the ability to fly is now as simple as putting on a backpack — a $443,000 backpack.

Born from a desire to pull off something only seen in comic books, the Gravity Jet Suit is the brainchild of English inventor and Royal Marines reservist Richard Browning. Made of a 3D-printed exoskeleton and a whole lot of horsepower (1,050 to be exact), the Jet Suit is understandably a high-priced commodity. But how exactly does it work?

The jetpack's ability to fly is made possible by five gas turbine engines. Two engines line each arm while a fifth is strapped to the lower back, allowing the wearer to steer the suit by simply moving their arms. With this kind of power, the Gravity Jet Suit can travel up to 32 miles per hour (51 kilometers per hour) and reach heights of 12,000 feet. If running out of gas at airplane-esque altitudes is a worry you can't seem to shake, you can rest easy knowing the suit's helmet includes an easy-to-read fuel gauge reflected in the visor.

A Hard to Handle History

Although you likely won't be fighting evil in this personal flight pack, the Jet Suit's success has opened a world of opportunity in human transportation. Until now, personal flight technology had a failed history. As far back as the 1960s, a variation of the jetpack called the "rocket belt" was designed and tested by now-defunct aircraft manufacturer Bell Aerospace. Unfortunately, the device's heavy fuel load made it difficult to maneuver and its development ceased.

But now, more than half a century later, the easy-to-steer Gravity Jet Suit has made personal flight a reality. According to Browning, the biggest challenges in piloting the vehicle are the physical stresses on the body caused by the hefty suit and intense horsepower. Luckily, maintaining his Royal Marines exercise regime keeps Browning in peak physical shape.

The Gravity Jet Suit is certainly a marvel in the way of futuristic tech advancements. And while it's earned its place in the Guinness World Record Book for fastest speed in a body-controlled jet suit, this superhero-like mode of transportation still has a way to go before we see it in the sky on the regular.

For more wearable technology, check out Wired to Wear at the Museum of Science and Industry. It features items from brands, designers, engineers, and artists across 15 countries to give visitors a firsthand view of how wearable technology is fueling innovation to revolutionize the benefits clothing can provide. The exhibit is open through May 2020. Get your tickets here.

Written by Ashley Gabriel June 13, 2019
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