Jetpacks, you're taking too long to reach consumer hands. And we have a feeling it might take even longer. Maybe a jetpack isn't just the personal flight transporter we should be waiting for. In fact, it might be wiser to look forward to the Volocopter instead.
Made by Germany's E-volo, we're not exactly sure what it is. On first glance, it looks like one of those toy gyrocopters you control with a smartphone, but bigger. At least, big enough to fit one person atop a body that looks about the size of an exercise ball.
The Volocopter is a vertical takeoff and landing (VTOL) aircraft that takes to the skies using 16 small propellers. Why so many? According to E-volo, the redundancy ensures the vehicle can land safely even if something goes wrong with one or more of the drives. It runs purely on electricity, so we expect the setup will get a bit bigger to fit in larger battery modules as it moves closer to production (the current prototype can only fly up to 20 minutes).
While the aircraft takes a lot of space, it's very light, weighing just 175 pounds. A seat is installed on top of the main body, where the pilot can maneuver the ride using simple joystick controls. There's no cabin (you're completely exposed while flying it), so it should feel just as liberating a ride as a regular jetpack.
Could the Volocopter be the personal aircraft of our not-too-distant future? There's certainly a possibility, especially if it ends up being as safe and as simple to operate as they plan to make it.