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A Green Personal Flying Machine

The Future Of Green Transportation Looks Extremely Fun

422790main_nasa-ama2-800A super-quiet, hover-capable aircraft, NASA’s experimental Puffin is a single-passenger/pilot, personal aircraft designed by NASA aerospace engineer Mark Moore and his colleagues at NASA, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), the Georgia Institute of Technology, the National Institute of Aerospace, and M-DOT Aerospace.

Named Puffin because, as Moore puts it, “if you’ve ever seen a puffin on the ground, it looks very awkward, with wings too small to fly, and that’s exactly what our vehicle looks like,” he explains. “But it’s also apparently called the most environmentally friendly bird, because it hides it’s poop, and we’re environmentally friendly because we have essentially no emissions. Also, puffins tend to live in solitude, only ever coming together on land to mate, and ours is a one-person vehicle.”

The Puffin is 12-foot (3.7 m) long, with a wingspan of 14.5-foot (4.4 m) wide. Propelled by two 7.5 ft (2.3 m) rotor disk, it is part plane, part helicopter and stands upright on the ground. The tail splits into four spring-loaded stabilizing legs and reveals the landing gear. This design supports a hard, forceful landing if necessary. As a pilot prepares to take off, flaps on the wings tilt to deflect air upward from the propeller rotors, keeping the plane on the ground until it was ready to fly and preventing errant gusts from tipping it over.

It lifts off like a helicopter, hovers and then leans forward to fly horizontally with the pilot lying down like in a hang-glider. Built with carbon-fiber composites makes it very lightweight – about 300 pounds (136 kg) empty weight, plus another 100 pounds (45 kg) of battery and 200 pounds (91 kg) for the pilot.

The Puffin is powered by electric motors for a total of 60 horsepower. Doesn’t sound like much get up and go, does it? Well, with up to 95% efficiency, electric motors are quieter, cleaner, lighter, and far more efficient than internal combustion engines, which only rate some 18 to 23%. Electric motors remain efficient regardless of their size, whereas internal combustion engines become less efficient the smaller they are. As such, electric aircraft can use small motors while generating impressive propulsion. That is why the Puffin can lift a person with just 60 horsepower. Electric aircraft are also much quieter than regular planes – at 500 ft (150 m), it is around 50 decibels, or about the volume of a conversation, making it approximately 10 times quieter than current low-noise helicopters.

puff2The Puffin has no flight ceiling because it is not air-breathing like gas engines, and thus is not limited by thin air, so it could go up to about 30,000 ft (9,150 m) before its energy runs low enough to drive it to descend. Another one of it’s safety features is it’s ability to fail any two power-train components on either side and still produce the required power to hover. So, no need to worry about stalled Puffins falling out of the sky. It has a cruising speed of 150 mph (241 kph), or an all out sprint of nearly 300 mph (482 kph).

The range with current battery technology is about 50 miles (80 km), because of the current limitations of the rechargeable lithium phosphate batteries. But Moore expects to see a range of 240 to 320 kilometers by 2017, because battery researchers are proposing a tripling of current battery energy densities in the next five to seven years.

Scheduled through the end of June, a 1/3 size hover-capable Puffin demonstrator (completed in March), is undergoing test to investigate variables such as how well it transitions from cruise to hover flight.

Changing the way we fly the sky ….

…. as the green future unfolds.

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No Responses to “A Green Personal Flying Machine”

  1. RE - RecycledFrockery Says:

    wowwww.. that looks crazy indeed. I don’t think you’ll be cramming me into one of those ever. if it saves the planet and it’s green, why not. better than these gasemitting supertankers in the sky
    .-= RE – RecycledFrockery´s last blog ..Join Us @ BloggersUnite for The Gulf – June 30, 2010 =-.

  2. Lissof Says:

    It would be an interesting vehicle to try out. Even though it could be potentially a very environmentally friendly transport, I see it’s use outside of major metropolitian areas due to air traffic congestion…

    However it would be more fun than a $2.00 ride at the county fair and for those of who live in rural areas where the terrain dictates that it takes 150 road miles to travel 50 miles as the crow flies, the commute from our off grid cabin just might become a reality.

    For the everyday person, I see spinoff technologies may be more of a benifit.

  3. RE - EntrePod Says:

    Lisa I’ve been thinking – do you think we could put Dick Cheney and Tony Hayward in that thing rubberbanded together ? that would make one helluva moonshot. Whooooooooooosh,

  4. Barbara Says:

    This looks like a lot of fun! I can’t wait until 2017, when I could at least go across my state, or maybe even down to Oregon. Clean, green, and quiet. Gotta luv it!
    .-= Barbara´s last blog ..What’s The Truth-BP? =-.

  5. Linda Says:

    Hi RE … Not adventurous, eh? Take a step on the wildside!

  6. Linda Says:

    Hi Lissof …. Being as such I live in a rural area, I think it just might work.

  7. Linda Says:

    HI RE … Well, that is a thought! :D

  8. Linda Says:

    Hi Barbara … Heck why not! It would so quick that you would not have any lag time to adjust to.

  9. Lissof Says:

    Linda, I too enjoy a rural way of life and would benifit from such a transport.

    But upon futher review of the article I noticed the following information: “But it’s also apparently called the most environmentally friendly bird, because it hides it’s poop, and we’re environmentally friendly because we have essentially no emissions.

  10. Lissof Says:

    Sorry about that Linda,,,

    I was so emotionally charged that the last entry got away from me as my frustrated fingers furiously attempted to navigate the keyboard…

    It seems as though a certain “BP” International Corporation,,, I shall not mention any names… Has been attempting to hide their “CRAP” and claim their Corporate Friendly Environmentally Sensitive Nature and good intentions…

    Linda,,, I feel I must point out the “Earth Friendly Biologically Compatible Compostable Nature” of “Puffin Poop” composed primarily of digested marine life, hidden from sight by the said producer, “Puffin” and recycled through Mother Earth’s composting scheme.

    As opposed the environmentally degrading nature of the “CRAP” (Corporate Accumulated Residual Pollution) that,,, I shall not mention their name “BP”,,, has been attempting to hide in Oceans linked by the Gulf Stream Current, originating in the Gulf of Mexico and potentially endangering the Americas, Greenland, Iceland, Scandinavia, Europe and Africa.
    Not to mention the sub-duction ocean currents that could carry their “CRAP” around the Southern tip of Africa into the Indian Ocean and beyond, or possibly around the southern tip of South America past Argentina’s Patagonian wildlife bounty to cycle into the Pacific Ocean and beyond.

    Sure, why not, might as well let Asia enjoy the bountiful benefits of their “Crap”.

    Just my little vent,,, in the face of this GLOBAL DISASTER staring us in the eye….

  11. Linda Says:

    Hi Lissof …. Well, I need to know how you yourself has no emissions! LOL! I think you are like the bird and make them silent but deadly! :D

  12. Linda Says:

    Hi Lissof … Glad to see you are on the same page as the rest of us. CRAP will be worldwide within a year and so everyone gets to enjoy this wonderful environmentally friendly company called “BP”.

  13. VanillaSeven Says:

    I just wondering how to scratch my butt in this container :D
    .-= VanillaSeven´s last blog ..Nepal EBC Trip: Beasts of Burden =-.

  14. Linda Says:

    Hi VanillaSeven … Darn, I must of missed mentioning the automatic butt scratcher ! There is a button ready with ABS on it. No not the automatic brake system! :D

  15. Nathan Says:

    I think people would love to have personal flying planes like this. It would really change the way we commute and especially the airline industry.

  16. Linda Says:

    Hi Nathan … It sure would! I know that I could use it ! :D

  17. Bill Wainright Says:

    I would love to see hundreds of these in the air at once, that would make for a mess. but a fun mess.

  18. Linda Says:

    Hi billl … it certainly would be a fun mess but a clean one as well! :D

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