Because there will be a lot of people
that think this is fake anyway, I mean you know, when you saw earlier
it almost looks fake when it’s right in front of you. Ready? And three, two… One! Hey guys! On our last episode of Make it
Real my team and I flew down to California to meet Richard Browning from
Gravity industries to try out his 1,000 horsepower jet suit! Make sure you go
check it out. And if you haven’t already make sure you
subscribe to Gravities youtube channel if they get enough new subscribers they
might let me fly the suit at full power. Anyway while we’re there we also got to
interview Richard one-on-one and learn more about how he designed the jet suit
and how it works. We also gave him a very special gift to complete the suit. This
might be one of the most in-depth engineering interviews on the jet suit
so we hope you guys enjoy, oh don’t forget to check out our vlog channel to
see a 40 minute long extended cut. There will be a lot of people that will think this is
faking it when you saw it earlier it almost looks fake when it’s right in front of you. I now see it as flattering when people
still say it’s fake. All right! You’re doing it you’re living out every little
kid’s dream of flying like Iron Man Let’s start at the beginning. How
does this actually like get started? Because I know you’ve always been
interested in flying and then you got that one jet engine and you start
playing, but what was the step that took you to: Let’s buy a jet engine and strap it to my arm.
Richard: Yeah that’s a very fair question.
Now I had a sensible job in London just mostly sitting at a desk for about 16
years or so but I’ve always had a bit of a habit I mean probably not dissimilar
to you of seeing an interesting challenge and just wondering well how
feasible might it be to go and achieve that thing whatever it might be and
other bits in my life like things like I spent six years in the British Royal
Marines Reserve as well and in that environment you get to learn a lot about
you know human capability and pushing your limits and all that kind of thing
so if you if you marry together an excitement for horse power and speed and
flying with the fascination for what human beings can achieve you
know balance and strength and control you think well this age-old passion of
flying I wonder whether you could approach it in a really different way
and, to cut a long story short, morphed into this idea let’s just kind of cheat
this with a bit of horsepower and then micro jet engines, and you realize how
monstrously powerful they are. James: How did you, like, buy that one jet engine? In
a bunch of our videos we’ve had viewers be like where do you go and
buy a jet engine and I’m like: It’s online you can literally order one online and it
shows up to your door!
Richard: It was a bit of a discovery my family background was all
in Aeronautics and things like that so it didn’t feel entirely alien to imagine
the idea of getting hold of a jet engines. I had no idea if this would work
I didn’t even know where this would take me in the end but I justified to myself
enough that just getting one of these engines and starting to hopefully
demystify a lot of the assumptions like 120,000 rpm torque would like rip your
arm off and it would play all over the place and the heat would roast you alive
and I thought well let’s just go and carefully try this. They’re really benign I mean they’re make an awful noise, right? And you don’t
want to point it at your face that’s for sure! James: We’ve got a video on that!
Richard: Yeah, I know you have! We’ve never done exactly that, but I, yeah.
Probably one of the biggest breakthroughs: Just having that one
single engine and de-mystifying all those reasons why this shouldn’t work you know
your spirit of just get your hands dirty and learn I’d say at the point I bought
probably the fourth or fifth one because with four you can you can see in the
films. Jumping around with four of them it’s like I didn’t come
down very quickly, it’s like wow this is this is getting there I just need a
couple more and I’m there! But buying engines five and six this is
starting to get to an amount of money that I’m gonna struggle to write off if
this is gonna be a massive failure another reason why we made such great
progress is that I tried you know adapt a piece of this existing technology,
exactly like your ethos right, rather than custom builds some hundred thousand
dollar thing and then find when it comes out the box it doesn’t work.
James: No point in reinventing the wheel! Richard: I was constantly adapting stuff
and that’s tricky!
James: So to give you some perspective we ended up spending
probably close to thirty or forty thousand dollars just on what we did and
we weren’t even anywhere close to getting that first flight and we’re like: Well we gotta spend another 50 grand on jet engines, break one and it’s just like so now
Richard: That was a really big issue right so we went from one engine to
actually doing that first wobbly flight in about eight, nine months. Three of those months was waiting for repaired engines to come back we
have damaged and had repaired probably 50 as in: At least 50 times had them gone
away and come back.
James: That’s hundreds of thousands of dollars! Richard: But at least the repairs cost a
lot less than buying them new, we’ve completely written off probably four I
would say. Money to get to the first six second flight will be around yeah fifty
to a hundred thousand dollars I’d say. James: That was kind of the biggest thing that
kind of slowed us down, we’re just like well we can either pursue this and maybe
fail or we can continue focusing on growing our YouTube business and
becoming sustainable so we’re able to do random projects like this in the future
and keep going so that’s when we had to kind of pivot away from flying like
Ironman and into more of our some of our smaller projects but now we’re taking on
bigger projects too and whatnot. In your initial tests was it just you or did you
have like a few friends? I started by myself and then I’ve quickly grown my
team and and it’s so much easier with the team as you can…
Richard: Oh massively, yeah, I mean this started as me and then after probably a couple
of months the one major gap in my kind of skill set was some of the software
coding so there was a guy near me who is a brilliant coder and I kind of enrolled him. We’ve got now a team of
approaching 20 in the UK and about ten in the US and then there’s this enormous
network of people largely that just do this for the passion of it I mean you’ve
met some of the guys around here. James: We all became aware of this suit, April Fools,
2017 , Red Bull. It was a brilliant marketing idea, like, let’s release this
crazy thing on April Fools! So many people were like: It’s fake! Its fake! !ts
Richard: Right, the first year we didn’t really engineer that it’s gonna be 1st of April
it just kind of happened that it appeared around that date. And then
we thought let’s just run with it anyway because there will be a lot of people I
think this is fake anyway I mean when you saw it earlier
it almost looks fake when it’s right in front of you. I now see it as flattery
when people still say it say it’s fake. James: So when you hovered for the first time
was it similar to Iron Man 1 when Tony put on his jets?
Richard: The learning
journey that you see in the film where he’s kind of learning it and falling
over and stuff we went through almost entirely the same thing and the guys
behind the CGI in the film, a lot of them have reached out to us over the
last year or so and actually they’ve noticed in what we’ve done a lot of
similarity and it’s just all credit to them for guessing and imagining what it
would be like so it’s really similar. James: so when you learn for the
first time did you say:
Stark: Yeah, I can fly. I’m an unusual case because when I did
that first six second fly I spun round and you can see me just grinning and
smiling and I was mostly glad that I managed to land it without falling over
we take risk but we calculate what’s the worst that’s gonna happen and if it’s
acceptable and I can get back up physically but also financially and
reputationally then we’ll take the risk our specialty is making a really cool
video so sometimes we make it look like it’s really risky, but, believe it or not
we have calculated the risk! Richard: If you can’t get up, it’s game
over right? Yeah if you’ve broken both your legs and you run out of money and you’ve
got arrested that’s a really bad day out but then you can’t carry on.
James: You want to start racing league with these. Where do you want that to go?
Richard: So I did this genuinely
for the pure joy of the challenge, you know, small opportunity to do it.
When you look at something and, like, I wonder if that’s possible because if it
is possible that could be really cool. But what’s next? Can we not have like 20
of those all kind of going around in a circle and crashing a bit and celebrate
who’s driving them and whatever. That for me is the obvious place to
take this, from an entertainment point of view, but mostly underneath that, if
you’re going to drive the technology what better way of doing it than doing a
racing series? But assembling those people and then touring the world going
through particularly, you know, big rivers running through cities because then
you’ve got the audience ready-made they’re jumping off the bridges in the Thames flying to the next bridge, up around it, flying again… You know,
you’re covering the risk is you fall in the water. The main reason for doing it
all is to drive this stem agenda, you know, celebration of what science and
engineering maths can actually achieve. James: Actually that’s the reason why we do Make it Real, because it’s opening that horizon of engineering is cool! Let’s celebrate that!
Richard: It’s critical to
everything around us, right? And like I say not only inspire a next generation
to dare ask: What if? But also drive the revenue that goes back into the R&D to
develop cool stuff like wings! That’s the plan.
James: So you’ve already pinned
the market on flying like Iron Man, we’ve got your suit, and we’ve got the Flyboard Air, we’ve got JetMan, we’ve got jet pack aviation, we’ve got a whole bunch of
different hoverboards that are like multi rotor setups…
Do you remember Inspector Gadget?
Richard: I do! James: Do you remember the helicopter hat?
Richard: Yeah I do!
James: I want to fly like Inspector Gadget, so we’re actually starting to design…
Richard: Are you doing neck exercises?
James: It’ll actually be more of a back thing, but we’re actually going to
be building a personal helicopter that is compact! So we’ve actually got 275
kilowatt brushless DC motors with 1.5 meter carbon fiber props!
Richard: Terrifying! Counter rotating?
James: Yes, counter rotating. So we have a hollow shaft and both motors
are stacked on top of each other and in total it will actually produce 240 kilograms
Richard: Oh my goodness!
James: We’re gonna have those handles come down just like
Inspector Gadget you’re like: all right I’m gonna go backwards, gonna go forwards.
So we’ve already bought the motors, we bought the propellers, we bought speed
controllers… So we’ve sunk about 20 grand into it so far, so hopefully you’ll see
me flying around a little bit.
Richard: I mean, fundamentally if you’re, you know, the
reason helicopter works so well even though it’s using a gas turbine it’s
moving a big air mass relatively slowly. The bigger those blades you can
make, while still having a compact structure, the more efficient is gonna be.
So it should be way more efficient than this. But yeah, you’ve probably got more
chance of cutting your own head off than this. James: There is that issue.
Richard: That’s the only challenge!
James: Alright, so we have some questions from our audience you’ve probably
answered them a hundred times before but let’s just go through them. Number one:
How high have you flown?
Richard: About eighty feet, over water!
James: How about concrete?
Richard: Probably accidentally 25 for a few seconds, yeah trying to not make a habit.
James: How fast have you gone?
Richard: We’ve hit 50 miles, 54 miles an hour I think it is. The
record that we set is down officially at 32 but we did 54 at that form of air
show. To be honest, with the power you can go way faster!
James: Yes! Once you get the wings going! James: How many suits do you have right now? Richard: Four.
James: Do you have a parachute?
Richard: No… There’s no point unless you can get can get to parachute height and on the way up to
that you’re in a danger zone. So if someone wants to buy one of these,
are you selling them?
Richard: Yeah we’ve sold two! It’s not our core kind of business, we don’t wanna
have loads of people flying around with these necessarily because you don’t know
what you’re doing, it’s not the ideal machine. We sold a copy of the
prototype for a quarter-million dollars not long after we launched the company
and we sold the last one kind of a smarter version of this to a guy in the
US for about four about a hundred and forty thousand dollars. James: So if anyone wanted to try this
suit, can they and how would they do that? Richard: Yes! So we offer flight training,
particularly in the UK but, we’ve done it elsewhere we’ve done it actually here in
California. We have a tether system, a platform and then all of that system
keeps you entirely safe as you start learning the balance and control, so it’s
training wheels for jet suits. James: Alright, so why don’t you walk us through the
suit and just, how does actually work? Richard: Right! So fundamentally now with the
latest setup we’ve got it’s five jet engines, little gas turbines. You’ve got
two on each arm yeah and then you’ve got one around the back and between that
those clusters of thrust that’s what creates that kind of tripod or pyramid
of thrust and the control is all down to really vectoring with your arms. Where do
you point them? You point them down: you go up. Point them out and then you go
down again. The fuel bladders in here they’re basically like rubberized
bags so you try and minimize the air inside them and then around the front
you’ve got this kind of waistcoat of electronics. Inside the helmet there’s a
head-up display system which takes a wireless data feed from this box so I
can see my fuel burn and flight time and engine status so that’s quite a neat
system! So yeah, it’s pretty simple and
I mean this this is actually quite an old model now, we’ve now got a version
which is almost entirely 3d printed and believe it or not in polymer!
James: Speaking of versions, what iteration is this? And what’s your iteration right now?
Richard: This is probably prototype 25 of just this pair of arm
assembly so, hard to say really. James: When you get to iteration 42 , I have
something for you! Richard: Right! What’s this? Oh you’re kidding!
James: So this is a full metal Iron Man helmet.
Richard: That’s very cool! Oh that’s, that’s insane! Oh no way! You’re
kidding! That’s so cool!
James: Perfect! It’s got a magnet ring…
Richard: That is so cool!
James: Tap it again. Richard: The guys who build all the
graphics for the film are massive supporters of ours and
come to every event! They were here yesterday! So for our race series we’re gonna
build the right graphics, we should get connected oh yeah! Huh! Oh
it’s quite weird having somebody do that to your face ha ha ha yeah that’s so
cool! Stark: Jarvis, you there?
Jarvis: At your service sir.
Stark: Do a whether and ATC check. Jarvis: Sir there are still terabytes of calculations needed
before an actual flight is ach-
Stark: Jarvis… sometimes you gotta run before you can walk.
Jarvis: Importing preferences and calibrating virtual environment.
Stark: Check on control surfaces.
Jarivs: As you wish Stark: Ready? And three… two… one! Richard: I’m looking through like a tiny little speck going: Huh! There’s concrete, people, how high am I?! Stark: Truth is… I am Iron Man. Big thank you to the Gravity team for
letting us come down to see the suit! If you guys want to see me fly the jet suit
at full power make sure you show gravity some love and subscribe to them on
YouTube. If they get enough new subscribers, flying might be in my future. So please
subscribe! Oh! And don’t forget to check out our vlog
channel to see a 40 minute long extended cut of the interview with Richard
Browning! Links are right here and here. Richard: I’m looking through a tiny little slit thinking: Huh! There’s concrete, people, how high am I?!