Commercial jetpack tests explosive parachute at 5,000 feet

It's looking more and more like the Martin jetpack (or rather, ducted fanpack) is going to be the first personal jetpack that you can actually go out and buy. Last week, the it got even closer to showrooms with a successful test of its rocket-launched parachute emergency safety system.

With airplanes or helicopters, if something goes wrong, at least you've got options. Airplanes can glide. Helicopters can autorotate. Jetpacks, though, have no passive ways of generating lift, so if you run into a mechanical issue, you're pretty well screwed. Martin Aircraft is well aware of this potentially fatal shortcoming, so they've installed a ballistic parachute system designed to get you to a safe landing no matter what happens.

A ballistic parachute is just like a normal parachute except that it uses a small explosive charge to deploy itself really, really fast. Since you don't have to wait for the parachute to open, it'll do its job even if you're close to the ground, making it viable for use on a personal jetpack:

While the jetpack sustained some minor damage on landing, if that had been you instead of a crash test dummy in the driver's seat, you would have walked away unharmed. This should instill a little bit of extra confidence for anyone willing to put down the $100,000 asking price when the jetpack becomes available later this year.

Martin Jetpack, via Kurzweil AI

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