Richard Browning donning jet-powered flying suit

Human jetsuits ‘could help police fight crime’

Image credit: Gravity Industries

Police could one day use jet suits to fly in pursuit of criminals, officials who attended a demonstration of the technology have said.

A human jet suit system, developed by the company Gravity Industries, was showcased at the Defence Science and Technology Laboratory (Dstl) based at Porton Down near Salisbury in front of senior police and government officials on Thursday (12 August).

Test pilot Richard Browning presented the system’s capabilities as part of a demonstration of emerging science and technology that could help fight crime and terrorism. In a fictional scenario, Browning flew rapidly through the air and tracked down a would-be assailant.

While it is not thought there are any immediate plans to buy and use the kit, chairperson of the National Police Chiefs’ Council Martin Hewitt – who was among those in attendance alongside Home Office officials – said the event presented some “important and exciting opportunities” to “identify where that could be used in the policing world”.

Hewitt described the system as “incredibly noisy” and quite “science-fictiony” but said it was fascinating and showed lots of potential.

“This is all about utility for police officers to do their job better, do it quicker, keep people safer, keep themselves safe,” he added. “We are fascinated to see how it will develop and if there are any potential uses in a policing environment in years to come.”

Richard Browning, who is also the founder of Gravity, said: “It’s always the same reaction – almost disbelief that you could see a human being moving in that way when your only real reference point is probably a Marvel superhero film.

“However, the application of Gravity is endless; to move specialist personnel in an urban environment quickly in a three-dimensional space, be it onto a rooftop, over a river or difficult terrain to contain a roving threat is really powerful.”

Browning’s team at Gravity developed and launched their jet-powered flying suit back in 2017. In September 2020, the Great North Air Ambulance Service tested the jetsuit in the Lake District to support mountain search and rescue.

The latest issue of E&T looks at a series of electric wingsuits and jetpacks, including Gravity’s jet-powered flying suit, as part of a focus on the future of flight. 

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