Feeds

NASA flying-car man designs electric VTOL podcraft

'Puffin' tailsitter offers just 6 minutes' hover, though

Bridging the IT gap between rising business demands and ageing tools

A NASA engineer long obsessed with flying cars has produced a concept design for a one-man, electrically powered helicopter/plane/glider podcraft. However the work was done largely without backing from NASA, and designer Mark Moore admits that battery technology must improve massively before the design becomes practical.

Moore, employed at NASA's Langley research centre in Virginia, is working on the "Puffin" aircraft - so dubbed because both are environmentally friendly and both look as though they can't fly* - with various partner organisations: MIT, Georgia tech, the US National Institute of Aerospace and private firm M-DOT.

Moore has long been a zealot in the cause of Personal Air Vehicles (PAVs, aircraft for everyman - essentially flying cars). He was formerly in charge of an actual NASA PAV project, which had a budget of $10m and was planned to produce a demonstrator "Tailfan" aircraft by last year.

The Tailfan would have been basically a light plane, but powered by a silenced car engine and fitted with a silenced ducted fan rather than a noisy propeller. The quiet Tailfan would have been capable of operating to and from from small airstrip-laybys in residential areas, and with the addition of modern robo-autopilot/air-traffic equipment (and perhaps the ability to drive on roads like the Terrafugia Transition) might have turned into a true PAV in time.

In the event, bosses at Langley "redirected funding" and terminated NASA's PAV activities in 2005. There was a NASA-funded tech prize, the PAV Challenge, but that was subsequently rebranded the "General Aviation Technology Challenge" and has now become the "Green Flight Challenge" - seeking aircraft which are low-carbon rather than ones which anybody could use.

But Moore evidently doesn't give up easily, because here he is back again with the Puffin. The aircraft's cunning landing-gear/tail, cleverly designed wing flaps and fiendish use of the many excellences of electric motors should allow it to operate somewhat like the "Tailsitter" prototypes of yesteryear, as opposed to today's Osprey tiltrotor. Rather than the rotors tilting and fuselage maintaining attitude, the whole lot will tip over into forward flight after making a vertical takeoff; and tip back again for landing to set down on its tail.

Mobile application security vulnerability report

More from The Register

next story
Malaysian Airlines flight MH17 claimed lives of HIV/AIDS cure scientists
Researchers, advocates, health workers among those on shot-down plane
Mwa-ha-ha-ha! Eccentric billionaire Musk gets his PRIVATE SPACEPORT
In the Lone Star State, perhaps appropriately enough
The Sun took a day off last week and made NO sunspots
Someone needs to get that lazy star cooking again before things get cold around here
All those new '5G standards'? Here's the science they rely on
Radio professor tells us how wireless will get faster in the real world
Diary note: Pluto's close-up is a year from … now!
New Horizons is less than a year from the dwarf planet
Boffins discuss AI space program at hush-hush IARPA confab
IBM, MIT, plenty of others invited to fill Uncle Sam's spy toolchest, but where's Google?
prev story

Whitepapers

Designing a Defense for Mobile Applications
Learn about the various considerations for defending mobile applications - from the application architecture itself to the myriad testing technologies.
How modern custom applications can spur business growth
Learn how to create, deploy and manage custom applications without consuming or expanding the need for scarce, expensive IT resources.
Reducing security risks from open source software
Follow a few strategies and your organization can gain the full benefits of open source and the cloud without compromising the security of your applications.
Boost IT visibility and business value
How building a great service catalog relieves pressure points and demonstrates the value of IT service management.
Consolidation: the foundation for IT and business transformation
In this whitepaper learn how effective consolidation of IT and business resources can enable multiple, meaningful business benefits.