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DS - So, how fit do you need to be to ‘pilot’ Daedalus?! It must require some serious upper body strength to control and fly?
RB - Well, certainly from an appeal to young people, I quite like the idea that I’m not a classic, late middle-aged, dumpy engineer who is just going to go and get in their contraption!
There’s an element of marrying up a degree of youthful physicality with the machine, and that’s a critical part of it. You know, if I was another 15 kilos heavier, we wouldn’t take off.
I have to be able to manage the power – and that’s come from all my calisthenics work, the flags and muscle-ups and whatever. I’m so inspired by what you see street kids doing with no equipment, they just go and do this stuff. It’s truly amazing what humans can do.
Calisthenics – the flag
It’s taken me 5 years or so – I’ve been doing calisthenics a lot longer than I’ve been working on the suit – and weirdly I always had an idea that there was something in it, I can’t quite put my finger on why, but I always had this idea of seeing how strong and light I could get, with the idea of doing something!
Fitness is a critical part of it. It is not accessible to all – although one of the patents we’ve filed is for using an exoskeleton that runs up the inside of your arm, a sort of composite exoskeleton that would take some of the load. Also, a bit like a Segway, when it feels you’re leaning one way, it will actually, proactively move the thrust a little bit.