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World’s first commercial jetpack launching next year

The dreams of science fiction fans could be about to come true after the world’s first commercially available jetpack was unveiled.

The Martin Jetpack has been in development for 35 years and will be available next year for $150,000 (£95,000).

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Although most fictional depictions of jetpacks use rockets to propel the wearer upwards, the Martin model uses two fans either side of the pilot in order to gain greater control. The fans are driven by a two-litre petrol engine and can carry up to 120kgs of weight. Prospective buyers will be pleased to know that it also comes with a low-altitude parachute.

The latest version of the device was shown at last month’s Paris Air Show, where it achieved speeds of 74 kilometres per hour and was capable of flying constantly for 30 minutes. It is also claimed that pilots will be able to reach altitudes of 1,000 metres.

Although the Martin Jetpack appears to be a largely useless, but entertaining gadget, its manufacturers believe that it could prove helpful to emergency services teams.

“For example, in the fire services going around to look at the situational awareness of what's going on, perhaps through water security or even search and rescue on beach patrol, something along those lines,” explained Martin chief executive Peter Coker. “Naturally for the ambulance service getting to a point of importance of rescuing people in the shortest possible time. So there's a lot of uses within that first responder environment."

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The jetpack’s ability to take off and land in confined spaces is its main advantage over other forms of air travel and it will be made available to the emergency services from the second-half of 2016. Martin will then begin selling the product commercially from 2017.