It may not be as sleek or as high-tech, as Iron Man’s suit, but right now, Richard Browning’s flight suit, developed under his startup Gravity, is the closest the world has to Tony Stark’s powered exoskeleton.
In its first live demonstration, Browning showed off his creation, the Deadalus, at a TED conference held at the Vancouver Convention Center, where he hovered above the ground and flew in a circle in front of a captivated crowd.
The entire suit is comprised of a specially designed exoskeleton, a helmet that tracks fuel usage, and six miniature jet engines that allow for vertical takeoff. To control direction and speed, the wearer has to use their arms. The tech allows the user to fly for 10 minutes straight, go as fast as 321 km/h (200 mph), and fly up to a few thousand feet into the air. However, for his live demo and his maiden test flight, Browning kept the speed and altitude low for safety reasons.
Browning himself admits that he doesn’t think the tech will go mainstream anytime soon. But, the Deadalus serves as proof of concept and demonstrates a new era in aviation. And while it’s still in its early stages of development, the attention it draws, including interest from the UK military, could mean the currently cumbersome tech could evolve into something practical. So, while we’re not exactly entering into a new era of aviation just yet, this invention is, at the very least, a remarkable stepping stone.