Soldiers of the future could sprint in and out of battle powered by lightweight jetpacks

The prototypes created by Arizona State University can be triggered to allow for "faster movement and agile motions"

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The Independent Tech

Even the most advanced jetpacks today can only fly for short periods of times, but the jetpacks of the future might be used for something a little more practical: running really fast.

At least, this is the idea behind 4MM: an engineering project by Arizona State University (and funded by the US military) to create jet-enabled backpacks that will help soldiers run faster - even when carrying heavy weapons and armour.

“What we’ve done is reduce the amount of force," said ASU engineer Jason Kerestes in a promotional video (below). "so you’re not able to fly with our jetpack but we have instantaneous thrust and we can pretty much trigger it to allow for faster movement, agile motion and so on.”

Kerestes says the goal is to get any solider running a four-minute mile (thus the name: 4MM) and that in 200-metre trials subjects were able to shave three seconds off their best time.

It isn't a massive amount - and a far cry from the jetpack-enabled soldiers of sci-fi classic Starship Troopers whose rockets help them leap hundreds of feet into the air - but it's decent for a prototype that still has to compensate for its own 5kg weight.

"In a warfare-type arena this could potentially be the difference between life and death," said Kerestes. "These devices can really help soldiers to not only accomplish their goals and succeed in their missions but potentially save human lives."