Aircraft

Ascend Dynamics presents its Skypak V1 electric jetpack

Ascend Dynamics presents its S...
A Skypak flight demo, with Mitchell the mannequin on board and a large wooden frame holding the whole thing up
A Skypak flight demo, with Mitchell the mannequin on board and a large wooden frame holding the whole thing up
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A Skypak flight demo, with Mitchell the mannequin on board and a large wooden frame holding the whole thing up
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A Skypak flight demo, with Mitchell the mannequin on board and a large wooden frame holding the whole thing up
Daniel Gant with the Skypak V1 prototype
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Daniel Gant with the Skypak V1 prototype
Fixes to the body with a harness
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Fixes to the body with a harness
Ascend Dynamics hopes to raise the funs to build and test a manned version with shielded props
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Ascend Dynamics hopes to raise the funds to build and test a manned version with shielded props
View gallery - 4 images

Poplar, Wisconsin is a small village, population 603 as of 2010, near the Southwest tip of Lake Superior, about an hour and a half's drive from Minnesota. A humble place from which to start an electric aviation company, perhaps – although it does have the distinction of being the birthplace of the late Major "Dick" Bong, WW2 fighter pilot and America's "leading air ace of all time" with 40 aircraft kills in combat in New Guinea.

It's also the home of one Daniel Gant, a mechanical engineer, former manufacturing engineer at Cirrus Aircraft, and model aircraft enthusiast, who's spent the last year and a half working on an electric jetpack concept under the company name Ascend Dynamics, LLC.

Now, he's presented his first prototype, the Skypak V1. Designed to be worn as a backpack, this jigger puts shoulder straps on a welded aluminum frame, from which extend three arms on each side. At the end of these arms sit pairs of wooden propellers, coaxially mounted at jaunty angles. Twelve 7-kW motors give it a total peak power output of 84 kW (112 hp), and it weighs 80 lb (36 kg).

Well, the jetpack part does. At the moment, it's being flown unmanned, with the help of a dummy called Mitchell Gant, who has unreasonably sexy eyes, and a wooden support frame that takes the total weight up around 170 lb (77 kg), since Mitchell's not much good at balancing.

Daniel Gant with the Skypak V1 prototype
Daniel Gant with the Skypak V1 prototype

Gant – Daniel Gant, that is – says that with the current 50-V, 36.4-Ah, 1.82-kWh lithium-polymer battery pack on board, this contraption flies for about two minutes. This is of course just a proof of concept prototype, and we're glad to hear there are no plans to fly this one with a human head in such close proximity to those wooden props.

Gant's intention is to raise some cash through PayPal and Patreon donations in order to get a second-gen prototype funded for manned flight testing. Said prototype, named the Skypak V2, would use larger props inside prop shields to give the pilot a sense of protection. Weight would be closer to 100 lb (45 kg), so a rather hefty unit, and it'll carry a pilot of up to 200 lb (90 kg) for short stints of around two minutes.

Should manned tests proceed well – which would be no easy feat – Gant says he'll then move on to create a Skypak 1 for sale. The aluminum frame will be replaced by carbon fiber, the motors will gain some power, the payload will rise to around 300 lb (136 kg), and the endurance issue will be addressed by incorporating an onboard generator to feed the battery, letting it fly for more than 30 minutes, according to the Ascend Dynamics website.

Fixes to the body with a harness
Fixes to the body with a harness

Ascend says such a device would be useful in search and rescue, law enforcement, firefighting, and military applications, as well as helping out with more quotidian tasks like bridge inspections, and maintenance of above-ground comms towers, power lines and wind turbines. It would allow pilots to fly on manual control, or could offer a number of autonomous modes and sense-and-avoid gear to keep things constrained and safe.

Of course, right now, it's just a vertically-stacked 12-rotor drone with a good-lookin' dummy and a dream. But Major "Dick" Bong probably started with a dream too, and he became the Ace of Aces.

Check out a brief video below, complete with rockin' soundtrack.

Electric Jetpack - Introducing SkyPak V1

Source: Ascend Dynamics

View gallery - 4 images
10 comments
10 comments
WB
Wow totally crazy, how is it possible that in the times of google these guys cant just look up best practices testing a jet pack. Or just look what the other hundred companies working on this did. The last landing showed that it's quite easy to tip over the entire contraption..and then having a ton of high spinning propellers would make chop-chop out of the pilot... who then would go and sue the company and executives and investors - since they probably don't have D and O insurance the execs, investors and responsible people quite possibly would be sued personally - piercing the corporate veil. If I'd be working at this company I would quit and leave, if you love your home and car and personal assets - unless they quickly quickly get their SH... stuff together!
paul314
So would lightweight carbon fiber shields actually make this thing safer, or just generate more shrapnel? It strikes me (ahem) that perhaps designs that put most of the obvious debris trajectories not passing through the operator might be a good idea, even if you sacrifice some speed or maneuverability.
guzmanchinky
I can't wait for an electric jetpack, but the main problem (as with all battery electric aircraft for the time being) is energy density. If a car is heavy it's not a problem, but an aircraft, not so much...
noteugene
Doesn't say how fast it'll go. I imagine they could put a screen btwn user & propellers....
Aermaco
Then add to the other issues with the wasteful use of forcing horizontal axis thrust that takes away from a pure vertical lift in the upper and lower prop sets [60% of them]. This constant energy use is just to keep it from tipping forward on its off of the center of gravity misalignment with the lift center. It burns energy just to stay vertical when a better design passive stability could be created and is a big conceptual design flaw.
Bomarc
Possibly use boron carbon fiber, not plain carbon fiber. Also, batteries are gaining better and longer, power storage capabilities. I expect future versions will be even more amazing,
Pat Kelley
Not impressed with a video showing a mannequin lifted about six inches for about ten seconds.
doc
It most DEFINATELY deserves a second round of funding i have to ask the editors though.When are you going to give us a review if the HEROFLYER !

This machine probably is the most agile of all machines made to date YET we have not even ONE review on here.
Rick O
I was wondering why I've never heard of the best WW2 pilot ever, but, there's the name thing...
jerryd
What a pile of shirt. Someone should show this engineer power require graphs for props would quickly show using 2 overhead counter rotating simple rotors about 12' diameter would lift him on just 15kw.
All such small props waste energy beating up the air at high speed and all those tip vortex losses mean they make maybe 3lb/kw and unstable computer controlled?
Vs a 12 dual rotor at about 20lbs lift/kw that is dynamically stable hands off just hangs there, no computer needed or wanted.
Which to choose?