Imagine you’re hiking on a mountain and you turn your ankle, tumble over, and can’t move. If you can make contact with first responders, it could be hours before someone makes their way to you on foot. If the situation is more serious, a helicopter could be used to airlift you to safety, but it’s a costly option and the conditions have to be right.
U.K.-based Gravity Industries has come up with another solution. The aeronautical and innovation firm founded by Richard Browning believes Iron Man-like jet suits would be perfect for delivering critical care services to anyone suffering a health issue or injury in a remote area.
Gravity recently teamed up with the Great North Air Ambulance Service (GNAAS) in England to show how sending a paramedic skyward with a jetpack would not only look incredibly cool, but could also save lives in medical emergencies where time is of the essence.
In a flight (below) demonstrating how the technology could be deployed by first responders, Browning used his jetpack to fly to a person acting as an injured walker. On foot, the trip through the Lake District’s hilly terrain would have taken about half an hour, but the “flying paramedic” was able to reach the waiting person in just 90 seconds by soaring just above the ground at speeds of up to 32 mph (51 kph).
The jet suit, which Browning has been refining for a number of years, features two small engines attached to each arm of the outfit, and a third one on the back, with flight direction controlled via hand movements.
Gravity notes that “calling in helicopter support for each and every case isn’t possible or practical, which leaves vehicle and foot approach,” adding that a jetpack-equipped paramedic would be able to “locate and stabilize the casualty within minutes of vehicle arrival.”
And if you think training someone to use the jet suit would be too time consuming, think again.
“The way this thing flies is very much an intuitive part of your body,” Browning told Digital Trends in a recent interview. “It’s a bit like riding a bicycle or skiing, or one of those things where it’s just about you thinking about where you want to go and your body intuitively going there. You’re not steering some joystick or a steering wheel.” The inventor said they’ve had people learn to fly with the kit in just “four or five goes,” adding, “All credit to the human subconscious — it’s just this floating, dreamlike state.”
While the recent jetpack demonstration was deemed a success, both Gravity and GNAAS agree that more testing and suit development are required before the system can be properly deployed by first responders for remote rescues.
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