French inventor, 49, becomes online sensation by hitting speeds of 78mph in amazing armoured suit with 32 wheels

  • Jean-Yves Blondeau, 49, has become an internet hit for his body-worn roller suit
  • His Buggy Rollin suit is made of 32 wheels and body armour, and can reach speeds of 78mph on roads
  • He developed the suit over decades following studies of neuroanatomy 
  • Videos of the Rollerman have become popular on Chinese social media

An eccentric French inventor has become an internet hit for his superhero-like body-worn roller suit, which can reach speeds of 78mph.

Jean-Yves Blondeau, also known as Rollerman, has been developing the piece of body armour equipped with 32 wheels on the feet, knees, back, stomach and arms for decades.

And while the 49-year-old did receive short-lived celebrity status in his native France back in late 1990s for the unique invention, he could soon see a resurgence in interest.

Eccentric French inventor Jean-Yves Blondeau has become an internet hit for his superhero-like body-worn roller suit, which can reach speeds of 78mph (pictured in 2007)

Videos of Mr Blondeau riding his Buggy Rollin suit down hills with his nose centimetres off the ground have become seriously popular in China.

One has had 55 million views on a Chinese social media network.

The inventor also sparks huge gatherings of spectators when performing public stunts.

Mr Blondeau, also known as Rollerman, has been developing the piece of body armour equipped with 32 wheels on the feet, knees, back, stomach and arms for decades

‘I wanted to do something that other people didn’t do,’ said Mr Blondeau, who began working on his suit when he was at university in Paris.  

Born 1970 in Alpine town Aix-les-Bains, Mr Blondeau originally designed his roller suit as his graduation project at the industrial design school École nationale supérieure des arts appliqués et des métiers d’art (also known as the Olivier de Serres) in Paris.

He at first wrote a scientific thesis on ‘systems that show the displacement of the centre of gravity of the human body through the displacement of its fulcrum with the aim of displacement in space, sensations, feeling and locomotion’.

But a practical purpose for the theory took a bit longer to be fully realised. 

Videos of Mr Blondeau riding his Buggy Rollin suit down hills with his nose centimetres off the ground have become seriously popular in China

But after studying neuroanatomy, which involves observation of the nervous system, and researching astronauts and acrobatic performers, he devised a prototype for his wheel suit.

Taking to the streets of Paris in the mid-1990s, he remembers how ‘people looked at me in a strange way’, before realising he looked like an ‘American superhero’.

Since then, he has created 20 generations of the superhero-type outfit, ranging from basic kneepads with rollers to sophisticated full body armour like the one worn in the Tianmen Mountain stunt.

While his pet project has never become the global phenomenon – with only a dozen people paying €5,000 for one of his suits – there is hope that interest from China could change his fortunes

It was using a model with 26 wheels at Mont Ventoux, Provence, that Mr Blondeau made his speed record of 116km/h (70mph).

He also worked as a stunt coordinator for the 2008 comedy film Yes Man, starring Jim Carrey, and taught Jackie Chan to use a wheel-suit for his 2012 movie, CZ12.

Describing the motivation behind his invention, Mr Blondeau told French paper Dauphine Libere earlier this year: ‘I wanted to work with the human body. Do feel the sensation of balance and locomotion.’

While his pet project has never become the global phenomenon – with only a dozen people paying €5,000 for one of his suits – there is hope that interest from China could change his fortunes.

He is also currently developing a version of the suit with an electronic motor.

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