NASAs One Man Electric Plane
The Puffin, NASA's VTOL one-man electric powered aircraft...
NASA scientists have officially unveiled plans for a hover-capable, electric-powered aircraft, nicknamed “the Puffin,”
The one man aircraft will stand around 12 ft tall, have a wingspan of 13.5 feet, and will sport 2.3 meter wide propellers powered by rechargeable lithium phosphate batteries.
NASA Puffin VTOL One Man Aircraft
On the ground the Puffin is designed to stand on its tail which splits into four stabilizers that deploy around the landing gear. As takes off, flaps on the wings would tilt to deflect air from the propeller rotors upward, keeping the plane stable and on the ground until it was ready to fly.
Once in the air, the Puffin can hover, or assume a prone position to fly forward. NASA claim that, in theory, the craft could cruise at 150 miles per hour and ‘sprint’ at 300 miles per hour.
Since the craft runs electronically, it doesn’t need air intake, so thinning air is not a limitation – this means it could reach heights of up to 30,000 feet before limitations on battery power force it to return to ground. Unfortunately, these battery limitations mean that the Puffin can only fly 50 miles per cycle, however scientists are confident that the Puffin’s range could be increased as batteries improve.
At the moment the Puffin is no more than a few researched specs and computer rendering, but as we can see from the clip, it looks pretty darn cool.
Although the Puffin could revolutionize the way we travel far into the future, the military applications of the Puffin are applicable today. The craft is 10 times quieter than current low-noise helicopters, making it suitable for covert operations. The electric motors are also less conspicuous as they generate less heat, making them less likely to show up on thermal sensors
Less heat also requires less cool air flowing over them, reducing the aerodynamic drag and increasing the crafts top speed.
Researchers plan on finishing a one third-size, hover-capable Puffin demonstrator by March. But Brien Seeley, president of an independent flight test agency that hosts the annual Electric Aircraft Symposium, says the designers still have plenty of work to do:
“In my opinion, a mass-marketable version will need conventional seating, cup holders and a short runway for glide-in, view-ahead landings—but opening up people’s imagination is the first essential step”
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