Well, kind of. This is one of [Jason Kerestes’] latest projects as a masters engineering student at the Arizona State University — A jet pack designed to increase your running speed by quite literally giving you a boost.
It’s one of the proposed solutions to the 4MM (4 Minute Mile) project, which is part of the ASU Program called iProjects, which brings students and industry together to solve problems. The 4MM project is trying to find a way to make any soldier able to run the 4 minute mile — quite ambitious, but DARPA is actually working on it with [Jason]!
The whole rig only weighs 13lbs and features two electric turbines which provide the thrust. They originally tested the concept by seeing if you could pull a person with an electric golf cart around a track to make them run faster — turns out, you can. Further more scientific testing led them to find that there is a specific thrust to body-weight ratio that works best, with the direction of thrust about 25 degrees below horizontal.
Through clinical testing they found that the jet pack is able to increase running speeds while maintaining a lower heart rate — and that’s with the extra weight of the jet pack. A 200m dash was completed in 25.27 seconds with the jet pack, and 29.82 without.
As for the 4 minute mile? One of their test subjects can run it in 5 minutes 20 seconds, or 5 minutes 2 seconds with the jet pack — unfortunately they aren’t quite there yet.