Fighting Skyscraper Emergencies With Jetpacks


FindLaw columnist Eric Sinrod writes regularly in this section on legal developments surrounding technology and the internet.

Some of us are old enough to remember the Jetsons cartoon show from the 1960s in which George Jetson and his family darted around in the sky using jetpacks and futuristic spacecrafts. Well, the future is here and now when it comes to using jetpacks to fighting skyscraper emergencies.

According to Popular Science, the city of Dubai, within the United Arab Emirates, entered into a contract with Martin Aircraft Company to buy 20 jetpacks for use by first responders in 2015. There are also more recent reports of Dubai firefighters using water-powered jetpacks and Dubai police using Star Wars-style hoverbikes.

Dubai certainly is a location worthy of such jetpacks. Why? Dubai is home to super tall buildings. And if there are fires or other emergencies that cause people to be stuck on high floors while needing assistance, the jetpacks could allow first responders to come to the rescue under such circumstances.

These particular jetpacks, as noted by Popular Science, are “personal flying machines” that use ducted fans rather than actual jets. While using these jetpacks, first responders can reach a peak altitude of 3,000 feet — higher than the Burj Khalifa, the world’s tallest building located, of course, in Dubai.

A first responder using this jetpack can fly at a speed of 45 miles per hour; this means that he or she can travel to the top of the Burj Khalifa in just one minute.

Perhaps one limitation is that the total flight time of this jetpack is 30 minutes. Nevertheless, this provides a first responder with sufficient time to assess an emergency, and he or she also could provide a jetpack to someone trapped in a tall building while a pilot on the ground remotely could operate that jetpack to bring the trapped person to the ground safely.

The jetpacks, not surprisingly, are not cheap. Indeed, each jetpack comes at price of $150,000. But, Dubai is quite concerned about safety. As noted by Popular Science, the city already has commissioned drone rescue devices and police Lamborghinis.

Eric Sinrod (@EricSinrod on Twitter) is a partner in the San Francisco office of Duane Morris LLP, where he focuses on litigation matters of various types, including information technology and intellectual property disputes. You can read his professional biography here. To receive a weekly email link to Mr. Sinrod’s columns, please email him at [email protected] with Subscribe in the Subject line. This column is prepared and published for informational purposes only and should not be construed as legal advice. The views expressed in this column are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of the author’s law firm or its individual partners.

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