Aircraft

Real-life Iron Man jet suit requires superhuman strength

Real-life Iron Man jet suit re...
Gravity founder Richard Browning lifts off in the Daedalus flight suit
Gravity founder Richard Browning lifts off in the Daedalus flight suit
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Two jet engines on his back, two on each arm: the Daedalus flight suit
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Two jet engines on his back, two on each arm: the Daedalus flight suit
Gravity founder Richard Browning
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Gravity founder Richard Browning
The Daedalus suit looks incredibly difficult to fly
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The Daedalus suit looks incredibly difficult to fly
The Daedalus suit requires a huge amount of core and arm strength to fly
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The Daedalus suit requires a huge amount of core and arm strength to fly
Early prototypes were even closer to the Iron Man suit, using jets on the legs
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Early prototypes were even closer to the Iron Man suit, using jets on the legs
The four-limbed Daedalus suit looked even more challenging to fly than the two limbed one
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The four-limbed Daedalus suit looked even more challenging to fly than the two limbed one
Browning's calisthenics training was an imperative part of this project
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Browning's calisthenics training was an imperative part of this project
"I think it ran out of fuel!"
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"I think it ran out of fuel!"
Richard Browning lifts off using the Daedalus flight suit
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Richard Browning lifts off using the Daedalus flight suit
Backyard superhero: Richard Browning takes to the sky
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Backyard superhero: Richard Browning takes to the sky
Gravity founder Richard Browning lifts off in the Daedalus flight suit
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Gravity founder Richard Browning lifts off in the Daedalus flight suit

British inventor Richard Browning has demonstrated a new personal jetpack-style flight suit with jet turbines on the lower back and arms. The Daedalus suit screams Iron Man to anyone who's watched the movies, but this thing looks brutally difficult to fly.

Jetpacks are well and truly a thing now, and the cast is emerging for an airborne real-life superhero showdown that we pray will one day eventuate.

Playing Buck Rogers is Aussie David Mayman of Jetpack Aviation, whose extraordinary JB-series jetpacks are production-ready and already being flown by "civilians." In the role of Green Goblin, Frenchman Franky Zapata. Zapata's spectacular Flyboard Air lets him surf through the air on a wave of jet-powered thrust.

And as of this weekend, we've got an Iron Man too. Richard Browning, of Salisbury, UK, has built a frankly terrifying looking system that puts RC hobby-sized jet engines on his lower back, and both arms.

The Daedalus suit looks incredibly difficult to fly
The Daedalus suit looks incredibly difficult to fly

Flying the thing looks incredibly difficult, as you can see in the video below. Pushing your arms against that much thrust and stabilizing your body in mid-air takes a ton of strength and endurance.

Browning's the man for the job, then. Even as a triathlete, ultra-marathon runner and endurance canoeist, he's still had to train like a man possessed to build the muscle to fly what he's dubbed "Project Daedalus," named for the father of Icarus in Greek mythology.

Refreshingly, Red Bull has put together a video that shows Browning's struggle to control the powerful jets rather than just his success. It's pretty compelling watching him wrestle with the different versions of the device, including one where the engines are mounted on his hands and feet. The core and upper body strength needed to fly the final prototype looks pretty epic.

Early prototypes were even closer to the Iron Man suit, using jets on the legs
Early prototypes were even closer to the Iron Man suit, using jets on the legs

Browning's flight suit currently comprises a helmet, boots, harness and motocross armor, but he's looking to expand the technology to include a HUD system, wireless datalink to a ground station and an airbag to lessen the damage when the inevitable happens.

Browning has founded a startup called Gravity to develop and commercialize the Daedalus flight device. But we think the first thing he should do is call David Mayman and Franky Zapata and get all three of these pioneering machines in the air at once as a spectacular demonstration of the current state of personal flight.

Check out the video below.

More information: Red Bull and Gravity

The Real Life Iron Man Jetpack That Actually Flies

6 comments
DavidMayman
Hey Loz, you're absolutely right. Time for all three of us to get into the air and have some fun. I'm up for a three way flight any time! Let's make it happen guys...you name it, anywhere in the world and I'm there!!
usugo
kinda of cool. But if he thinks that design will have any significant commercial application, he is clearly delusional. Or, too high on endorphins!
BillSchmidt
They are clearly doing this the most difficult way possible by having the jets at the end of the arms, which require the most strength. Attaching the jets to the shoulders would accomplish the same thing without the strength requirements.
JonStron
its not about commercial significance now, it's what could potentially come from it in future versions for commercial potential in future, let them all come together an let the creativity flow ! ! Bill interesting remark, it's what it will evolve into that is significant !
Gaëtan Mahon
Someone probably didn't get the memo that the original had the drivetrain attached to a powered exoskeleton with an onboard AI doing things like thrust calculations and a nearly limitless power source to keep one going, eh?
windykites
What really impressed me was the vertical hand stand, where he pushed up his body weight. The movement for control using the arms is small, so why not use hinges on the suit to restrict excess movement, and eliminate the strength requirements? There is always the question of what height do you want to fly at, bearing in mind fuel and an engine failure (instant instability). Could you copy 4 engine drones, and hang underneath, like an umbrella?