Despite decades of development and experimentation, jet packs remain relegated to the same category as flying cars and diet pills that actually work; they’re all promises pop-culture made to us about the future that have since been broken by the harsh reality of pragmatism and economics. Flying cars, while possible to build, are hindered by humanity’s inability to properly manage them. Diet pills that actually work tend to come with worse side effects than obesity (like having your heart explode), and jet packs have yet to solve their longest lasting problem: how short their operational range can be when you have to carry your fuel on your back.
Gravity Industries doesn’t build flying cars or make diet pills, but they have devoted a great deal of time and energy into making jet packs a more feasible approach to personal transportation, and like any good business, they know that there’s far more money in defense contracts than there is in selling jet packs as grocery-getters for single moms. So, they went ahead and designed and built a firearm mount and gimble that would allow the wearer to engage the enemy even while their hands are busy managing their system’s wrist-mounted engines. Sure, range is still an issue… but the rifle serves as a great distraction from that.
The gimbal was designed to mirror the pilot’s helmet movements up and down, but its left to right movement was nixed out of fear that the rifle would hit the pilot in the side of the head. It’s important to note that the team at Gravity, along with engineer James Bruton, aren’t suggesting that this design is combat ready. Instead, they approached this an experiment to see if such a mount were feasible (using an airsoft rifle).
And as cool as this setup looks (it’s hard to deny the resemblance to Marvel’s War Machine here) it’s a good thing that it was just an experiment, because you’d be hard pressed to find anyone in their right mind that’s eager to start unloading 5.56 rounds just a few inches from their ear and close enough to accidentally burn your face on the barrel as you look around. If you’ve seen the entirely unavoidable (for veterans) advertisements about class action lawsuits regarding poor ear protection resulting in permanent hearing damage, you can imagine why positioning the barrel of the rifle a few inches from your ear might seem like a bad idea.
Of course, the real point behind this endeavor was just to see if they could mount a rifle on their jet pack, and to that extent, they were successful. Maybe all they need to protect the wearer is a good quality helmet with a heads-up display that’s both sound and impact resistant. Ya know… like War Machine’s.
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