Aerial mobility systems manufacturer Maverick Aviation has released images of its hands-free jetpack prototype, aiming to transform maintenance, inspection and rescue operations.
The jet pack uses a Vertical Take-off and Landing (VTOL) system and can be reconfigured as a heavy-lift drone capable of being operated remotely. According to Maverick, the jetpack could carry ten times the payload of current similarly sized systems on the market.
Developed by Maverick Aviation CTO Matt Denton and CEO Antony Quinn, the jetpack could be used to allow people to make safer flights and precision landings on difficult-to-access structures such as wind turbines, military hardware and construction projects.
Other potential use cases include search and rescue, leisure, disaster relief, security and policing. The company, based at the Fareham Innovation Centre at Solent Airport near Southampton, estimates the potential market for security, defence and rescue uses alone as worth more than £700m.
Due to its smaller size, use of sustainable fuels and reduced cost, Maverick said that its jetpack could offer a cheaper and more tailored solution as an alternative to helicopters.
Advanced manufacturing techniques such as 3D printing have been used alongside materials including aluminium, titanium and carbon fibre to make the jetpack ‘unusually light’, the company added. It will reportedly travel at between 10mph and 30mph.
Described by Maverick as ‘extremely intuitive’, the control system allows for the operator to switch on an in-built autopilot for in-flight multi-tasking if necessary. Early work on the system software was funded by a £97,000 Innovate UK grant, secured by Maverick’s grant partner Catax. The grant also went toward patent applications and creation of a concept demonstrator.
“The jetpack uses the same sort of jet engines that you see on a passenger plane, only ours are the size of a rugby ball,” said Maverick Aviation CEO Antony Quinn. “What is unique about what we’re doing is the computer-controlled autopilot system that makes flying effortless and easy to control with precision. That’s how we’ve changed jetpacks from exciting to useful.”