If anyone should have access to the latest greatest technology, it’s the people in the military; or at least people in the good militaries. Make that the good people in the good militaries, because I think we can all admit that there are psychos in the army and also entire psycho armies. The point is, American combat soldiers might soon have access to personal hoverboards. That information was revealed by inventor Franky Zapata, the creator of the FlyBoard Air, a hoverboard that can travel up to 10,000 feet in the air and touch speeds of more than 90 miles/hour. No man should have that kind of power, but maybe it makes sense for the military to have it at their disposal.
Even if you haven’t heard of Franky Zapata, you’ve probably seen the video of him hovering over a body of water like a pragmatic Silver Surfer who understands the limitations of real-world physics. Footage from that first test of the FlyBoard Air led to most of the geeky Interwebs losing its collective shit over the possibility of such a thing becoming a commercial reality. Things were not all smooth, though, as over the process of refining the gadget Zapata crashed it a few times and eventually got banned from flying it in his home country of France. So for a while there, things weren’t looking great for the FlyBoard, at least with regard to regulations and getting the nod from authorities.
Now, though, it seems like the FlyBoard’s fortunes have changed for the better. Zapata has said that he’s working directly with the US Army to see how his creation could be of use in combat situations. It makes sense that that partnership has come about, considering Zapata Racing was sold to Implant Sciences which is a defense technology firm. Implant Sciences has a long history of being a supplier to the Department of Homeland Security. The company’s products focus primarily on the detection of explosives, for which the TSA has also tapped it.
They now own the company that makes the Flyboard, which could by association be Implant Sciences’ coolest product yet. Zapata told The Verge, in an interview last year, that the hoverboard is propelled by jet fuel held in a backpack that’s worn by the rider (that sounds totally safe). It has four engines, each of which produces 250 horsepower, so that’s a cumulative 1000 horsepower. The board is stabilized using algorithms similar to the kind drones use to stay upright.
It will be a while before it happens, but the Flyboard Air may eventually be enlisted for use in special operations of some kind. The Flyboard website lists rental centers at which the general public can try the device out for themselves. It isn’t, however, available for purchase in the USA at the moment. Even if it doesn’t make the cut, the American military has projects in the works to keep up the cool quotient, like biodegradable bullets and implantable bio trackers. Makes you wonder how Modern Warfare, the game, is going to keep up.
Prateek Jose is a writer and engineering undergrad from India with an unhealthy obsession for obscure historical trivia. Conversations about absurdist fiction and the technological singularity make his day. He’s already uploading parts of his brain to servers by writing for websites such as this one.
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