New Zealand-based Martin Aircraft Company’s flagship product is an unconventional flying machine: a jetpack that might seem like a prop from a sci-fi movie, were it not for the fact that it’s well on the road to commercialization.
In October, New Zealand’s civil aviation authority cleared the company’s Prototype 12 model jetpack for manned flights. The fan-propelled jetpack, when shown in June at the Paris Air Show, could soar almost 1,000 meters and fly up to half an hour. The company’s jetpacks are expected to become commercially available sometime in the second half of 2016.
The jetpack’s development is one example of the big ideas and big bets being made across transportation-focused enterprises, where companies like Martin Aircraft are racing to the far edges of what’s possible. We live on the precipice of a time when cars will be “fully autonomous in the long term”, according to Tesla CEO Elon Musk. In a call with electric vehicle shareholders this month, he gave it 15 to 20 years.