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UK ‘Iron Man’ Show Off Flying Suit

An inventor from the UK has demonstrated a custom flying suit –à la Iron Man – that he built. Richard Browning, who showed off his novel invention during a TED event in Vancouver, Canada, describes the flying suit as “a bit of fun” rather than a significant innovation, but the feat is impressive all the same:

Browning told the BBC that his motivation for building it was purely for the challenge, which he relished. “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 said.

“I think of it as a bit like a jet ski, a bit of fun or an indulgent toy, but I do have a hunch that stuff will come along to make it more practical,” Browning explained.

“There is something strange in seeing the human form rise up and drift around and that leaves a deep impression on people,” he added.

The Daedalus suit, as Browning calls it, is capable of vertical take-off and, theoretically, could reach speeds of 200mph and altitudes of a few thousand feet, but its inventor has not even considered testing it under such conditions. Browning’s new startup, Gravity, is working on a new model based on the Daedalus prototype.

If Gravity commits to developing Daedalus, or should another inventor or company take the baton from Browning, could commercial flying suits become a reality? The UK Civil Aviation Authority has spoken about the matter, suggesting that it would have to be as tightly regulated as aircraft traffic is currently.

“Going forward it may be necessary to create a new category of regulation for this technology as it clearly does not fit in neatly with aircraft regulation,” a CAA spokesman told the BBC. “Ultimately, I think it unlikely that such technology would be completely deregulated.”

“This is potentially powered flight after all, unlike activities such as hang-gliding and paragliding which are deregulated,” the spokesperson added. “High speed human propulsion could easily conflict with low flying aircraft and so the ‘pilot’ would almost certainly need some kind of training and a licence.”

Ashley Allen

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