Tony Stark and his amazing Iron Man flight suit, an impressive piece of wearable tech designed and built by Stark alone, is a near-perfect Marvel comic-book confection — just the kind of thing that slightly crazy tech entrepreneurs might chase. British inventor Richard Browning is that kind of guy. Hell-bent on creating his own ‘Iron Man” flight suit, Browning founded the company Gravity. He recently partnered up with Red Bull, a beverage company famous for backing incredible feats of human endurance and insanity.
Browning spent a year developing the Daedalus Flight Suit, which falls far short of the style and capabilities of Tony Stark’s real Iron Man gear. It consists of small jet engines strapped to his lower arms, ankles and, sometimes, his back. Instead of an arc reactor embedded in Browning’s chest, the propulsion suit is powered by highly flammable liquid fuel that Browning carries in custom suit equipped with fuel bladders.
There are some Iron Man-worth touches in the Daedalus Flight Suit: A built-in heads-up display or (HUD) so Browning can keep track of his flight, fuel levels and engine operation. It also keeps constant track of the fuel bladders with a fail-safe fuel alert (you don’t want anyone dropping out of the sky when the fuel runs out).
The suit is, naturally, Wi-Fi and Bluetooth-enabled, allowing it to live-stream video to the ground and for the ground crew to keep tabs on the status of the suit itself.
Of course, calling it a flight suit is still a bit of a stretch. In a pair of videos demonstrating the “human propulsion system,” Browning, wearing these roughly foot-long engines on his arms and legs, rarely stays aloft for more than a few moments and is never more than a few feet off the ground.
In the video, Browning clearly has trouble controlling the power of the small jet engines. He does undergo some pretty intense strength-training to better control the suit, something we’re not even sure Tony Stark went through.
The long-term goal is for the Daedalus suit to propel humans (presumably safely) at hundreds of miles per hour across the sky. We will believe it when we see it.