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An Arizona State University engineering student has built a wearable jetpack that, in trials, has improved one subject's 200-meter time by 3 seconds and his mile time by 18 seconds.
Jason Kerestes calls his prototype 4MM, for 4-minute mile, the speed he wants U.S. soldiers who might one day wear the jetpack to be able to run. Kerestes' project has received funding from the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, which commissions advanced research for the U.S. Department of Defense. Among other projects that have come to fruition, DARPA was behind the creation of the Internet.
Kerestes' faculty advisor, Thomas Sugar, has done work on robotics that assist amputees. DARPA asked Sugar about the possibility of robotics that could help able-bodied people run faster.
Kerestes' jetpack applies force at the wearer's hips and ankles. A separate handheld control device is operated by someone other than the runner. The jetpack weighs 11.2 pounds.
The runner in the video below, Alexander Chapin, runs 28 seconds for 200 meters on the track without the jetpack, and 25 seconds for the distance while wearing it. In a road mile, Chapin runs 5:20 without the jetpack, and 5:02 while wearing it. In both jetpack runs, his form looks a little tidier, especially during the swing phase of the gait cycle.
Source: Runners World