British inventor Richard Browning lifts off in his 'Iron Man' suit at a TED conference in Vancouver, Canada. Photo: Glenn Chapman

British inventor Richard Browning lifts off in his ‘Iron Man’ suit at a TED conference in Vancouver, Canada. Photo: Glenn Chapman, AFP

It’s Iron Man. In real life.

A British inventor, Richard Browning, lifted off from the shore of Canada’s Vancouver harbour in a personal flight suit.

Using thrusters attached to his arms and back, Mr Browning flew in a circle and hovered just above the ground while people from the TED conference he was speaking at watched.

“The hypothesis was that the human mind and body, if properly augmented, could achieve some pretty cool stuff,” says the extreme athlete and engineer.

Crashing to learn

Mr Browning says he had experimented with lots of different miniature jet engines on his limbs and he’d crashed to the ground quite a few times.

“The whole journey was about trying and failing, and learning from that,” he says.

His new company, Gravity, launched this year with an early-version suit called Daedalus.

A 55-second video clip of the suit in action has had more than one million views since being posted on YouTube about three weeks ago.

Mr Browning says he is already getting interest from investors and people from the British military who told him they had given up on the flight feature of an “Iron Man” suit until seeing his.

Not ready to take to school yet

“I don’t think anyone is going to be going down to Wal-Mart with it or taking anybody to school for quite a while, but the team at Gravity is moving it along,” says Mr Browning.

He dreams of a flight suit that one day will allow people to launch from a beach, soar along the coast and then maybe hop into a helicopter to continue their journey.

Mr Browning says that unlike the Iron Man armour worn by the Marvel Comics character Tony Stark, his goal is about the real world.

He also describes the project as part of a personal journey, inspired by an engineer father with a love for flying machines, but who died when he was just a teenager.

Agence France-Presse

Leave a Comment