Feeds

'Jetpack' inventors: US military showing interest. Honest

No jets involved, nor is it a pack. 'Blower-throne'?

Build a business case: developing custom apps

A New Zealand company founded by a garage inventor says it is in talks to sell its so-called "Jetpack" - actually a personal ducted-fan aircraft too heavy to be lifted by its user - to the US military.

The Martin 'Jetpack' in hover tests

Stupid background projection out of focus again.

The New Zealand Herald reported at the weekend that inventor Glenn Martin, founder of the Christchurch-based Martin Aircraft Company, says his firm is in talks with the US Defense Department.

"We're already dealing with Rockwell Collins. We've got conversations going with [Boeing, Raytheon and Rockwell Collins] and more, in particular those conversations are being led by the US Department of Defence," he told the paper.

Martin invented his "Jetpack" in his garage, and has been working on it for decades. Weighing well over 250lb, it is in fact much too heavy to realistically be described as a "pack" - rather it is a small aircraft which you strap into, as opposed to strapping on.

Nor does the Jetpack feature any jets, instead using a two-stroke engine to power two large ducted fans. A better name for it would be "blower-throne" or somesuch, though this would obviously forfeit a lot of marketing impact.

The Jetpack, despite not being a jet or a pack, shot to global fame during the terrible summer news drought of 2008 after a New York Times scribe had a hover about in it at a US airshow.

Since then Martin and his colleagues have predictably struggled to stimulate any serious interest in their machine. The New Zealand government's Foundation for Research, Science and Technology has chipped in NZ$1m, and the firm says it has received $12m for manufacturing and distribution rights in an unnamed foreign nation. The company also claims that as many as 1,600 people have "expressed interest" in buying a Jetpack for $140,000 each.

However the foreign rights sale last year was described as insufficient to actually get the Jetpack into manufacture by Martin Aircraft chief exec Richard Lauder, who stated at the time that the cash "will give us a lifeline but it doesn't give us the sort of venture capital we need".

It's always possible that the US military might want the "Jetpack" for some reason, but it's hard to see why. There are already various working one-man aircraft which offer superior portability and would be just as good for most jobs - and the US military isn't interested in those, either. The Herald writeup reports suggestions by Martin and Lauder that an unmanned version might be on the cards, but again there are many proper, working VTOL UAVs already available.

The credence of the supposed defence-department talks was also rather undermined by apparent differences of opinion between Martin and Lauder on the desirability of military sales, with Martin saying he would be "pretty pissed off" if his invention wound up being used to carry weapons.

Reportedly, Martin Aircraft is also considering raising funds by going public in the near future. The Reg jetpack and flying-car desk market analysts would unhesitatingly award any such stock a solid "bumwad from the bank of toyland" rating. ®

Secure remote control for conventional and virtual desktops

More from The Register

next story
Gigantic toothless 'DRAGONS' dominated Earth's early skies
Gummy pterosaurs outlived toothy competitors
Vulture 2 takes a battering in 100km/h test run
Still in one piece, but we're going to need MORE POWER
TRIANGULAR orbits will help Rosetta to get up close with Comet 67P
Probe will be just 10km from Space Duck in October
Boffins ID freakish spine-smothered prehistoric critter: The CLAW gave it away
Bizarre-looking creature actually related to velvet worms
CRR-CRRRK, beep, beep: Mars space truck backs out of slippery sand trap
Curiosity finds new drilling target after course correction
'Leccy racer whacks petrols in Oz race
ELMOFO rakes in two wins in sanctioned race
Astronomers scramble for obs on new comet
Amateur gets fifth confirmed discovery
What does a flashmob of 1,024 robots look like? Just like this
Sorry, Harvard, did you say kilobots or KILLER BOTS?
NASA's rock'n'roll shock: ROLLING STONE FOUND ON MARS
No sign of Ziggy Stardust and his band
prev story

Whitepapers

Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
Top 10 endpoint backup mistakes
Avoid the ten endpoint backup mistakes to ensure that your critical corporate data is protected and end user productivity is improved.
Top 8 considerations to enable and simplify mobility
In this whitepaper learn how to successfully add mobile capabilities simply and cost effectively.
Rethinking backup and recovery in the modern data center
Combining intelligence, operational analytics, and automation to enable efficient, data-driven IT organizations using the HP ABR approach.
Reg Reader Research: SaaS based Email and Office Productivity Tools
Read this Reg reader report which provides advice and guidance for SMBs towards the use of SaaS based email and Office productivity tools.