In the 1960’s, The Jetson’s technology was the stuff of dreams. Of all of the technology this fictional space-age family used, the most craved item was George Jetson’s personal jetpack.

Now, 50 years ago these ideas were science fiction, but New Zealand jetpack manufacturer Martin Aircraft wants to make them reality. The company recently raised more than $21 million dollars in its initial public offering on the Australian Stock Exchange, and followed up with a $12 million dollar outside investment to build 500 jetpacks for use by governments and defense firms.

At the recent Paris Air Show, company CEO Peter Coker said that the first jetpack model will be ready for public use by 2016. What makes this jetpack different from what’s come out in years past is that this jetpack is actually safe. Company founder Glenn Martin created the design by working nights and weekends in his garage over a span of 30 years.

His invention is an ultra-light personal helicopter that uses two gasoline-driven 1.7-foot diameter ducted rotors, and can fly up to 31.5 miles at an FAA-mandated maximum speed of 63 mph. 

Still ahead, the company must work out regulatory and insurance issues, but it looks like the commercial jetpacks are no longer just a science fiction fantasy. This wearable jetpack is already getting a lot of interest from potential buyers who want one (and really, who doesn’t?) for personal use, but it won’t come cheap. The company is taking $5,000 deposits on the jetpack, which is expected to cost between $150,000 and $200,000 depending on customization features.

There will be a wait as well: the first Martin Jetpack commercial product release will be a version for first responders specifically designed for use by fire services, search and rescue, border security and other similar government and  corporate clients.

Photo credit: Flickr Creative Commons