NASA shows off 10 engine helicopter/aircraft hybrid drone (video too!)

The Greased Lightning drone could become a personal aircraft in the future

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NASA's Greased Lightning

Credit: NASA

Pretty cool stuff here. NASA this week said it successfully flew its battery-powered 10 engine drone that can take off like a helicopter and fly like an aircraft.

The concept aircraft, known as Greased Lightning or GL-10 could be used for small package delivery, long endurance reconnaissance for agriculture, mapping and other survey applications. A scaled up version could even be used as a four person size personal air vehicle, NASA researchers said.

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NASA said the GL-10 is currently in the design and testing phase. The initial thought was to develop a 20-foot wingspan (6.1 meters) aircraft powered by hybrid diesel/electric engines, but the team started with smaller versions for testing, built by rapid prototyping.

"We built 12 prototypes, starting with simple five-pound (2.3 kilograms) foam models and then 25-pound (11.3 kilograms), highly modified fiberglass hobby airplane kits all leading up to the 55-pound (24.9 kilograms), high quality, carbon fiber GL-10 built in our model shop by expert technicians, " said aerospace engineer David North.

The remotely piloted plane has a 10-foot wingspan (3.05 meters), eight electric motors on the wings, two electric motors on the tail and weighs a maximum of 62 pounds (28.1 kilograms) at take off.

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Greased Lightning had already passed hover tests -- flying like a helicopter -- and now has made a flight performing the transition from vertical to forward "wing-borne" flight. No easy task. A couple of the real world aircraft like the Osprey or Harrier make it look easier than it is.

The next step in the GL-10 test program is to try to confirm its aerodynamic efficiency, but first is a stop at the Association for Unmanned Vehicles Systems International 2015 conference in Atlanta May 4-7, NASA stated.

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