Nov 13, 2015 | By Benedict

It looks as though comic book fantasy will soon become domestic reality in the UAE, as Dubai’s civil defense force has recently ordered 20 partially 3D printed jetpacks from New Zealand based Martin Aircraft Company, each worth $250,000.

Jet packs have been part of modern folklore for many years now, being the preferred mode of transport for many fictional heroes such as Sean Connery’s James Bond in Thunderball. Now, Dubai’s civil defense force has revealed that their (real) fire department could succeed James Bond by using the high-tech devices, to protect the tallest buildings of its populous city from fire.

On Monday 9th November, at the Dubai Air Show, the civil defense department signed an agreement with Martin for the purchase of 20 “manned and unmanned jetpacks”, due to be delivered in the near future. Martin, at the forefront of jetpack technology, expect their first batch of professional jetpacks to be ready by late 2016, with a range of “personal jetpacks” for the consumer market set to follow in mid-2017.

The partially 3D printed jetpacks ordered by the Dubai government, each powered by a two-litre, two-stroke 200hp V4 engine, can travel at a top speed of 45mph, and can reach a maximum altitude of 3,000ft. Made with both 3D printed and carbon fibre parts, the flying machines can fly for a maximum of 45 minutes and carry roughly 260lbs. This weight capacity allows for a firefighter to man the jetpack, along with medical equipment. Martin hope that the 45 minutes flying time will be extended once an improved engine is implemented. Peter Coker, chief executive of Martin, is currently working with an as-yet unnamed engine company to develop a more powerful mechanism. "We hope to have something to say on that early next year," he explained.

Dubai has also ordered simulators and a training package from Martin, in order to train its firefighters to properly use the machines. Few would dispute that this is probably a good move on their part. Once staff have been trained to operate the machinery, the 3D printed jetpacks will be used for reconnaissance and rescue purposes.

“Sometimes, in fires, people go to the top of the building. You cannot always get ladders there, and you cannot always use the elevators,” Dubai’s civil defense department director Ali Hassan Almutawa told the BBC. "Rescue and fire-fighting, we see these as the main role at first. But there could be many other roles. The [jetpacks] can go into confined spaces to size-up the situation. We are going to modify them with thermal-imaging cameras.”

Whilst many will be wary of the dangers posed by flying such a vehicle, Martin have installed several important safety features. If the operator of a jetpack lets go of the controls, the jetpack is stabilised by its on-board computer. This should lower the chances of users flying into buildings or other obstacles.

Whilst the partially 3D printed jetpack is unlike much else on the market, some have said it more closely resembles a personal helicopter than the rocket-fuelled contraptions seen in films and on television. Ducted fans, rather than rocket fuel, enable the Martin jetpack to get off the ground.

Coker has outlined his future plans for the company, which include the development of unmanned jetpacks. "We're constantly looking at ways to develop the product, new applications and new power sources,” the chief executive stated. “We think this is a disruptive technology. We're constantly looking at how to take our thinking to a different level. I think the Dubai deal shows that the technology is coming of age.”

Keep following 3Ders for further updates on this unbelievable use of 3D printing technology.



Posted in 3D Printing Application



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Bemused Bob wrote at 11/14/2015 6:09:48 PM:

It would make far more sense to use large drones without further risking personnel. You can't as yet use this to rescue people, so will you just pop up and bid them farewell ?

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