British inventor takes flight in 'Iron Man' suit

April 28, 2017
Richard Browning attends the TED Conference in his personal flight suit in Vancouver, Canada, on April 27, 2017

British inventor Richard Browning lifted off from the shore of Vancouver Harbor on Thursday in a personal flight suit that inspired references to comic superhero 'Iron Man.'

Using thrusters attached to his arms and back, Browning flew in a circle and hovered a short distance from the ground, captivating attendees at a prestigious TED Conference.

The personal is capable of propeling wearers much higher and faster, according to its creators.

"The hypothesis was that the human mind and body, if properly augmented, could achieve some pretty cool stuff," the extreme athlete and engineer said at the gathering a short time earlier.

Browning told of experimenting with various numbers and arrays of essentially miniature jet engines on his limbs.

Along the way, he said, there were more than a few crashes to the ground.

"The whole journey was about trying and failing, and learning from that," Browning said.

The first reasonably stable, six-second flight with the gear inspired his team to press on.

His startup, Gravity, formally debuted about a month ago with an early-version suit called Daedalus.

A 55-second video clip of the suit in action has logged more than a million views since being posted on YouTube about three weeks ago.

Browning said he is already getting interest from investors and some in the British military who told him they had given up on the flight feature of an 'Iron Man' suit until seeing his human-propulsion gear.

"I don't think anyone is going to be going down to Wal-Mart with it or taking anybody to school for quite a while, but the team at Gravity is moving it along," Browning said.

British inventor Richard Browning used thrusters attached to his arms and backto fly in a circle a short distance from the ground, captivating attendees of a prestigious TED Conference

He dreams of a flight suit that one day will allow its wearer to launch from a beach, soar along the coast and then perhaps hop into a helicopter in the air to continue their journey.

Browning has already seen the early-version flight suit compared to 'Iron Man' armor worn by Marvel Comics character Tony Stark, but stressed that his goal is firmly rooted in the real world.

He also described the project as part of a personal journey, inspired by an engineer father with a love for flying machines, but who died when he was just a teenager.

Explore further: Making sense of Iron Man's science

Related Stories

Making sense of Iron Man's science

April 26, 2016

With this week's release of the new Captain America movie, Civil War, it's another opportunity to see Captain Rogers and Tony Stark as Iron Man draw on their superhuman strength and technology—even if they bring it to bear ...

Astronaut trials innovative SkinSuit in space

October 14, 2015

An innovative SkinSuit designed to reduce the debilitating physical effects of space flight has been trialled for the first time on the International Space Station (ISS) by a European Space Agency astronaut.

Rhode Island School of Design works with NASA on Mars suit

December 6, 2016

When scientists are trying to figure out how to live in near-isolation in a dome to simulate a Mars mission, the last thing they'll need is an ill-fitting space suit. So one of the nation's top design schools has come to ...

Boeing unveils blue spacesuits for Starliner crew capsule

January 30, 2017

Boeing has unveiled the advanced new lightweight spacesuits that astronauts will sport as passengers aboard the company's CST-100 Starliner space taxi during commercial taxi journey's to and from and the International Space ...

Recommended for you

Enhancing solar power with diatoms

October 20, 2017

Diatoms, a kind of algae that reproduces prodigiously, have been called "the jewels of the sea" for their ability to manipulate light. Now, researchers hope to harness that property to boost solar technology.

10 comments

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

TheGhostofOtto1923
5 / 5 (1) Apr 28, 2017
I suppose if you added a bunch of attitude, location, and acceleration sensors to a computer control setup it might work.
retrosurf
2 / 5 (4) Apr 28, 2017
The arm turbofans are a gimmick, designed to exploit the resemblance to the extremely popular Iron Man movie franchise, but a founder's got to do what a founder's got to do. The fuel tank, pump, and regulation system in the backpack is .. faintly terrifying. Good engineering, though, using a vectored quadrapod around the pilot COG (as much as possible). Note the 2 lumbar unit vectors, and the use of the arm units as two of the legs.

Clearly, at no time do you want to have any propulsive force transmitted through the human frame. That's just nonsense, but as I said, FGTDWAFGTD to get the money to come in.

Much more computer. It's going to end up being a capusule, free-freestanding when at rest, because if you can't go fast enough to tear your clothes right off why bother?
qitana
3 / 5 (2) Apr 28, 2017
Is the height he can reach very limited? When I look at these vids, it's as if he needs the ground below him to help him stay above the ground. But perhaps I just misunderstood.
Steelwolf
not rated yet Apr 29, 2017
@retro, yeah, I had quickly envisioned the same 8 jet (quad pairs) around a bubble setup, and with the kerosene jet these are almost low tech, comparatively. It will last somewhat longer than the propane jets that had 5 min airtime max, especially with a pod setup.

And yes quitana, it appears he is making use of ground effect. However, that may be for safety reasons, I imagine that he could power up from that point, but it is taking him to be nearly a Superman anyways with the 'core strength' to be able to control his critter anyhow.
adam_russell_9615
not rated yet Apr 29, 2017
The arm turbofans are a gimmick, designed to exploit the resemblance to the extremely popular Iron Man movie franchise, but a founder's got to do what a founder's got to do.


I think the arm jets are for stability. Without them he would faceplant.
Caliban
not rated yet Apr 29, 2017
"Gimmick" would appear to be an appropriate understanding of this project, almost certainly just another pump'n'dump startup with very obvious and fatal flaws, as presented.
TheGhostofOtto1923
5 / 5 (2) Apr 30, 2017
The arm turbofans are a gimmick, designed to exploit the resemblance to the extremely popular Iron Man movie franchise, but a founder's got to do what a founder's got to do.


I think the arm jets are for stability. Without them he would faceplant.
Yah even stark used them to obvious effect.
https://www.youtu...uMk8SRzY
robweeve
not rated yet May 01, 2017
A Segway would be so much easier.
IronhorseA
not rated yet May 01, 2017
I can see what kind of 'superhero' he'd be, just point the arm thrusters at the bad guy and melt his face ;P
FredJose
not rated yet May 02, 2017
A Segway would be so much easier.

Not in the air it won't....LOL.

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.