Google considered building a jetpack

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Back in the good old days, we were promised that the future (ie, now) would be full of such wonderful devices as flying cars, hoverboards and jetpacks.

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And apart from Sean Connery’s James Bond donning one in Thunderball, the jetpack has remained firmly in the realm of research, military or space use – they are still a long way from replacing the car as a personal transport device.

Now it seems that the researchers at Google’s secretive X laboratory did look into developing a personal jetpack.

Stuff reports that Google X head Astro Teller revealed this week that the lab worked for some time on a wearable device, the aim being to create a safe personal jetpack.

The report says that the project was ditched because of issues with power efficiency, with Teller claiming that the finished jetpack would have been as loud as a motorcycle.

In a talk at TechCrunch Disrupt in New York on Tuesday, Teller said that Google X rejected about 100 prototypes a year and that the lab’s purpose was to uncover and develop technology suitable for personal, everyday use.

He said that the hope was to build a wearable personal traveling device that “wasn’t a death trap”.

As well as Glass, the lab had also been responsible for Google’s driverless cars, Project Loon – which uses high-flying balloons to spread internet access – and Google Contact Lens, a lens able to measure blood sugar levels in diabetic wearers.

It seems that, for the time being, the only person we’ll see zooming through the skies with a jetpack is Bond. James Bond.

Stuart O’Connor