Dubai doesn’t really do “down to earth.” Home to the Baj Khalifa – the world’s tallest building – as well as an array of other extravagant features like the glittering gold souk, the desert city is the perfect candidate for the world’s first jetpack-wearing fire brigade.
It may sound like science fiction, but it’s about to become reality. The Dubai Civil Defence Operations director Lt Col Ali Hassan Almutawa has recently announced a deal to purchase 20 jetpacks, worth $250,000 (£165,000) each, from New Zealand-based firm Martin Aircraft Company. The packs are powered by a two-liter V4 engine, boasting 200 horsepower and a top speed of up to 74 kilometers per hour (45 mph).
They will also be capable of reaching the toe-curling heights of 1,000 meters (3,000 feet), meaning firemen will be able to access all 160 floors of the Baj Khalifa without their feet touching a solid surface. However, this doesn’t mean they’ll be carrying 3,000-foot hoses with them, as they won’t necessarily be using the jetpacks to actually tackle blazes. Instead, the packs will enable “first responder” firemen to get a better look at the situation, identifying trapped victims and carrying vital medical supplies. Able to take off and land vertically, the new technology should enable firemen to reach spaces that other aircraft like helicopters can’t access.
Made from carbon fiber and 3D printed components, the jetpacks will fit right in among the high-tech emergency response teams of Dubai. For instance, it was recently announced that robot police officers could be deployed on the city’s streets as early as 2017. Let’s just hope the jetpack pilots are a little better at operating them than this guy.