The illusive jetpack has just become more viable and nimble. Inventor Raymond Li of Canada built a hydro-jetpack that can propel a man up to 30 feet into the sky.
Many have tried developing the jet-packing idea in the past, using bulky gasoline-powered fans or models that "require extensive training" to obtain. Li's invention, however, propels the pilot with twin streams of high pressure water created in a floating engine-and-hose pack that floats on the surface of a body of water. In this manner, Li was able to circumvent the traditional jetpack's greatest complication: thrust-to-weight ratio.
By leaving the engine on top of the water, you're technically tethered by the hose (and can't move too far onto land), but the trade off is that you can move at a little over 20 miles an hour, with amazing agility guided by twin hand controls that allow you to adjust the force of the left and right hoses.
And the ride is smooth, so smooth that some riders have compared it to riding on a magic carpet. The hydro jetpack is supposed to hit the market sometime later this year at a starting value of $175,000, with resorts and high end recreational facilities as primary targets.
Inventor Li foresees it being used practically as well, in "marine structure inspection and repair, lifesaving, firefighting and even peacekeeping". Peacekeeping? Ok, maybe in a post-apocalyptic 1995 Waterworld-type-scenario. But for now, it just looks fun.
Check out the NewScientist story for the full details, and a video of the jetpack in action.