British ‘Iron Man’ takes flight at TED 2017

British engineer Richard Browning has demonstrated an Iron Man-style suit at the TED 2017 conference in Vancouver, flying above a platform with the help of jet engines strapped to his arms and back.

Browning hovered in front of attendees, attached to a custom exoskeleton that features a helmet-mounted display for gauging fuel levels. He stayed close to the crowd, but told reporters that the suit was capable of reaching an altitude of a few thousand feet, and speeds of 200mph.

“I did this entirely for the same reason that you might look at a mountain and decide to climb it – for the journey and the challenge,” he told the BBC.

The Daedalus suit – named after the Greek mythological figure who escaped captivity with the help of man-made wings (his son, Icarus, was less fortunate) – is currently capable of staying airborne for ten minutes, and is reportedly attracting interest from the UK military. However, Browning, who is in the Royal Marines Reserve, insists the project is “a bit of fun”, and unlikely to be a regular mode of transportation any time soon.


YouTube video of the Daedalus suit being tested in Browning’s home county of Wiltshire currently has over a million views. The suit has had an all-black paint job since then, and the engineer’s Gravity startup is at work of an Mk.2 prototype.

Browning’s efforts at TED 2017 were certainly impressive, although the inventor apparently had to “borrow” fuel from harboured seaplanes in Vancouver to get the suit working.  

There isn’t currently much in the way of regulation for jetpacks, with neither the Civil Aviation Authority nor the European Aviation Safety Agency having firm guidelines on the technology. One thing they probably won’t be happy about, however, is coupling a jet engine-powered exoskeleton with a 10kg pneumatic fist. I’ll just leave this here.  

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