Forget cars, bikes and boats. Next year “Iron Man”-style jet suits will be the new vehicle to race in.
At London Tech Week, Europe’s largest festival of technology and innovation, British jet engine-powered suit manufacturer Gravity Industries hosted the UK’s first race over the Royal Victoria Docks waterway on the River Thames.
An international race series is due to be launched as early as next year.
Richard Browning the founder and chief test Pilot of Gravity Industries and ‘real life Iron Man’ was joined by two other pilots from Gravity Industries to give a first look ahead of their Race Series concept.
Speaking to the Telegraph earlier this year, Browning said that he is trying to turn his jet suit it into a business. “Having achieved it and done it frankly more successfully than I dared think we’d get to, then obviously the challenge became - well, what do we do with it?” he says.
As well as a race series, the inventor has sold two jet suits. A prototype suit was sold to an anonymous Japanese billionaire for $250,000, Browning says. Last year, he also sold a jet suit to an entrepreneur in New York for $440,000.
“We had our arm twisted by a Japanese gentleman who was just desperate to buy a copy. I said: ‘Please wait because we’re going to have a better version.’ And he said: ‘No, no.’ He was adamant.”
Nine jet suits are currently available for sale through Selfridges for £340,000 each (plus £5 for delivery in the UK). None have sold yet.
Browning doesn’t plan to start scaling up his retail ambition any time soon. “We have to be very careful with this,” he says. “It is not our core model to be just trying to make these as cheap as possible and handing them out.”
Carolyn Dawson, Managing Director of London Tech Week added: “London Tech Week is all about showcasing the very best innovations from across the world and we’re delighted to offer festival delegates the opportunity to watch this first of its kind Jet Suit race. London is a great place for testing out new ideas and technologies.
Watch the video above to see the race through the pilot's eyes.