Tuesday, 13 August 2013

Personal Jet-Pack gets experimental licence in N Zealand. Big breakthrough for personal flying.

The great thing about being in tech and digital is that nothing is ridiculous. Email 10 years ago was a fantasy..... never mind downloading music or books to your phone. When I was selling email to corporates, the biggest obstacle was that "no one else has it". 10 years ago.

Invention requires the ridiculous thought.

For many years now I've dreamt that transport, personal transport, was the next frontier. Getting from A to B in a car, with all the traffic and road building needs, seems an old fashioned way to go. Far better, to use the uncluttered sky and far quicker. I have no doubt that my kids will travel this way.

NASA have been developing an all electric, one-man home plane called 'Puffin' which flies with vertical take-off and landing allowing you to "park" in your back garden. Not there yet, but it will be.

But yesterday, New Zealand Air regulators have licensed a personal jet pack developed by 'Martin Aircraft' called the P12. It's an experimental personal permit allowing testing 20 feet above ground on un-inhabited water or land areas but it's a big leap forward. The pilot (you and me) straps themselves into a frame and controls it by way of two joysticks with a rocket propelled parachute in the event of trouble.

Ideal, initially, for first-time responders such as emergency crews, and indeed with clear military applications, it is expected to be available generally to the N Zealand public in 2015. Ambitious perhaps, but it is on the way. And it's expensive....for now.

It's also big and cumbersome - not unlike the first computers - but all of that will develop, producing a better, lighter, more affordable version. The big driver here will be demand and unlimited demand there will undoubtedly be.

There's a real sense that technology is easily well advanced to provide personal flying and regulators will come on board in time. It's the new frontier that will require so many sub-systems (mapping, comms, etc) it's going to create another technology wave.

My kids will fly to work. Ridiculous? There's no doubt about it.