The world record for running the mile is 3:43:13, but most people can’t even come close to running a mile under four minutes. DARPA, the US Military’s research arm, hopes to change that by super charging soldiers with jetpacks to help them run faster. Designed by Jason Kerestes at Arizona State University, the 4MM, which stands for 4 Minute Mile, is a wearable jetpack the propels a person forward with small turbines worn on their back. Tests show that despite the additional weight of the pack, runners’ times decrease with the additional propulsion.

In combat, soldiers are loaded down with all sorts of equipment and gear and yet expected to move quickly over long distances. While a lot of work is going into reducing the weight soldiers carry through advances like solar powered uniforms and advanced battery technology, the military is looking at any technology that can give them an advantage. One idea is to help propel soldiers to make them run faster and longer with the aid of a jetpack.

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Jason Kerestes, with the help of his research professors at ASU, has been working on the 4MM jetpack, which combines small turbines with battery power and is worn on the back. So far tests in both short and longer distances show reduced running times despite the addition of an extra 11 pounds of weight. The test subject didn’t quite hit the 4 minute mile mark yet, but did see an 18 second decrease, which could be the difference of life and death in a combat situation. Eventually, weight advances and improved technology could help Kerestes achieve the goal of helping a normal individual achieve super human running times under the 4 minute mark.

+ 4MM Jetpack

+ Jason Kerestes