NASAs-10-Engine-Drone India
NASA’s 10 Engine Drone.

Quadcopters beware. NASA is working on something that makes ordinary drones plane in comparison. This is Greased Lightning, a 10-engine electric craft that can hover like a drone and transform into a plane.

Greased Lightning (also known as the GL-10) was designed by NASA researchers first as a demonstration of how drones can be efficient and capable. With its vertical takeoff, the GL-10 can launch anywhere a quadcopter can. But with its V-22 Osprey-inspired transforming tricks, the GL-10 is much more efficient than a helo once it’s in cruise mode.

The insane little flying machine has been in development for months now, and NASA researchers played with all sorts of different sizes and models—losing more than a few of the 12 initial prototypes to “hard landings” here and there. The current version, weighing 62 pounds with a 10-foot wingspan, finally nailed that in-air transition from helicopter to plane.

While the GL-10 certainly looks like aviation overkill, NASA says it’s not as complicated to fly as you might think. The four engines on either wing act as a single unit, which makes operating the GL-10 a lot like flying a three-engine plane, according to primary pilot Zack Johns.

The NASA researchers want to prove that the GL-10 is about four times more efficient than a helo in cruise mode, and it may test some scaled-up versions of the vehicle. Initially the Gl-10 was going to have a wingspan twice as long as it currently does, with diesel and electric engines. As Bill Fredericks, an aerospace engineer on the team, points out, “A scaled-up version—much larger than what we are testing now—would make also a great one to four-person-size personal air vehicle.”

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Credits: popularmechanics


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