NASA is currently working on a personal aircraft that will put jet packs to shame. The Puffin is an all-electric one-man aircraft that could be the start of some new and amazing air travel technology. With two prop electric engines, lithium phosphate batteries and a top speed of almost 300 mph, people will be trading in their iPhone for a chance to see one of these things in action. Originally designed for covert military insertions because it is quieter and has a lower heat signature than combustion engines, the Puffin could beat out traditional aircraft in terms of environmental impact as well.
When on the ground, NASA’s vertical take off and landing (VTOL) aircraft stands 3.7 meters high on 4 extendable legs, which also serve as landing gear. To take off, the two propeller rotors start spinning and raise it off the ground, then it leans forward and takes off horizontally. The pilot lies prone inside the cockpit while in flight. Cruising speed is around 240 km per hour and top speed is 480, all powered with lithium phosphate batteries that amazingly provide only 60 hp for propulsion.
The NASA engineers named it the Puffin because it resembles the awkward bird, but there’s nothing awkward about it when it flies in the video below. Thanks to its all-electric motor, the aircraft has zero emissions while in flight, making it environmentally friendly than combustion engines. Additionally, the Puffin would be super quiet – 10 times quieter than current low-noise helicopters, and since the engine is electric it has no “flight ceiling” and can fly up to 9,150 meters uninhibited by thin air . The only major drawback right now is the battery capacity, which would only allow the Puffin to fly 80 km per charge. The researchers expect that as battery technology improves so will the range.