Dubai has certainly been a big supporter of out-there technology projects in recent years. Among its supercar police fleet, crime detection algorithms, drone racing facilities, underwater Hyperloop projects and floating luxury homes, the city has shown a lot of early support for jetpacks.
While some figures may have been fudged in regard to the "world's most expensive billboard," the fact remains that it did indeed have a guy on a hydrogen peroxide rocket belt flying around it back in 2012. And in 2015, Jetman daredevil Yves Rossy took to the skies over Dubai to fly with an Airbus A380 in a spectacular publicity stunt for Emirates Airline.
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Also in 2015, the UAE's Directorate of Civil Defence signed a memorandum of understanding with New Zealand's Martin Aircraft Company for an initial delivery of up to 20 Martin Jetpacks for use in firefighting in high-rise buildings. It's interesting to note that all mention of this deal has disappeared from the Martin website, indicating that this project might be dead.
Today, the Dubai Media Office released video of a new jetpack firefighting initiative that's a bit simpler and more affordable.
The Dolphin project appears to put a practical twist on the Zapata Flyboard, a US$4,500 waterjet-propelled flying platform driven by a powerful jet ski motor. Flyboards have been popping up as tourist attractions and entertainment experiences all over the world, and inventor Franky Zapata has more recently been setting a number of records and dazzling crowds on an untethered, jet turbine powered Flyboard Air hoverboard.
The Dolphin project envisages an aquatic, quick response firefighting unit that can get a firefighter to any water-adjacent location in a matter of minutes no matter what the traffic's like.
Rising up on a jet of water, the firefighter can get a hose onto the fire, using an unlimited source of water to douse the blaze, and potentially getting to the scene before a firetruck can or, in the case demonstrated in the video above, some kind of firefighting supercar.
While the video's undeniably very cool, and has been receiving plenty of attention, we can see a few problems.
Firstly, the Dolphin system would only be useful in a very limited set of circumstances; fires that are right next to water that firetrucks are struggling to get to, and that don't need the firefighter to get more than 30 feet above the water surface – the maximum length of the Flyboard hoses. Boat and marina fires seem to fit the bill, too.
Secondly, any quick response ability might be negated by the need for the jet ski rider to jump off, pull all the flying platform gear out, strap the jet boots on and get airborne.
Thirdly, the firehose itself will be heavy and cumbersome to lift, and the jet of water it provides will produce a significant thrust away from the target area. That's gonna take some physical effort to work against.
Still, practicalities aside, it's a fun idea and will certainly raise some eyebrows if it ever gets used for real.
Source: Dubai Media OfficeView gallery - 4 images