Boeing offers $1 million prize for inventing a personal flying machine

Enlarge / The Flyboard Air is a personal flying machine that was unveiled in 2016. (credit: Aquatic Aviation)

Boeing is offering $2 million in prizes—including a $1 million top prize—to inventors of “safe, quiet, ultra-compact, near-VTOL personal flying devices capable of flying 20 miles while carrying a single person.” VTOL stands for vertical take-off and landing, meaning that Boeing is looking for something more original than a conventional ultralight airplane. Boeing is correct that there’s potential for technological breakthroughs here, but in the world of aviation, $1 million doesn’t get you very far.

The idea of personal flying machines is hardly new. Personal jetpacks have existed since at least the 1960s. But they have always had severe range and safety limitations, preventing them from becoming widely used.

In recent years, however, there’s been some sign that this might be changing. Some people have continued refining jet-pack technology. One inventor has been dubbed the British Iron Man for his rocket suit, while an experimental jet-powered hoverboard called the FlyBoard Air was unveiled last year (it costs $250,000 and isn’t yet available to the general public).

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Source: Ars Technica

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