Jetpack Aviation announced last autumn that it is developing a jet-powered flying engine called the Speeder, which will soon be available to anyone willing to pay the expected high price for the vehicle. Although this commitment sounded more than optimistic at first, the company seems to be doing quite well with the development of the Speeder.
Jetpack Aviation’s subsidiary Mayman Aerospace, named after the company’s founder, unveiled the P2 Speeder prototype at an event held by the Draper Venture Network a few days ago, and it promises to take to the skies later this year. The location of the announcement is no coincidence, as the project’s main backer is Tim Draper, who has previously helped companies such as SpaceX, Tesla, Cruise, Twitch, Coinbase and Skype to take off. Draper has described Speeder as “an industry-changing technology”, and if anyone knows what he’s talking about, it’s Draper.
The Speeder is powered by jet engines developed by Jetpack Aviation, which have been used successfully in their rocket backpacks for years. There are a total of eight of these engines on the engine, which can be swivelled on the fly so that they can be used for both climb and engine propulsion. The developers say that the transport version of the Speeder will be capable of reaching speeds of up to 800 km/h thanks to the jet propulsion, and can carry up to 450 kilograms of cargo at a time over a distance of almost 650 kilometres.
A piloted, remote-controlled and fully autonomous version of the Speeder is planned, which Mayman Aerospace intends to use initially for rescue, military and police applications. According to the demonstration, the engine will also be capable of extinguishing forest fires or quickly transporting injured people, among other things.
Of course, the developers have put a lot of effort into making the vehicle as safe as possible, so the Speederne has redundant systems, and the engine’s on-board computer is said to be able to balance the torque between the remaining engines in case one engine fails. Although, unlike many of the VTOLs under development, the Speeder is not electrically powered, it is powered by so-called sustainable aviation fuel (SAF), which is much more expensive than kerosene but produces far less carbon dioxide when burned (although it is worth noting that some NGOs claim that the carbon dioxide emissions saved by SAF are actually just a numbers game).
As New Atlas notes, this is the third prototype of the Speeder in a row, and if all goes well, the first that will actually take to the air. Mayman Aerospace plans for the first remote-controlled flight to take place as early as the second half of this year, and human tests shouldn’t be much further away. According to earlier reports, the price of the Speeder could start at $695,000, but when it will be available for order is still a question – the pre-order page on Jetpack Aviation’s website has disappeared and Mayman Aerospace’s website does not yet list such an option.