The VTOL Plimp Hybrid Airship avoids two problems with airplanes and helicopters. If an airplane’s speed drops below a critical value in horizontal flight it will stall and fall quickly to earth. A helicopter plummets as well when there is a breakdown in its complex rotor system. The Plimp will take off vertically with the simplicity of an airship and fall slowly back to earth if the engine stops working or there is a leak in its balloon. So far. the design has been tested by Egan Airships with a scaled drone version:
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An MIT group has demonstrated an ionic drive that is powerful enough to propel a drone: MIT engineers fly first-ever plane with no moving parts | MIT News
Now MIT engineers have built and flown the first-ever plane with no moving parts. Instead of propellers or turbines, the light aircraft is powered by an “ionic wind” — a silent but mighty flow of ions that is produced aboard the plane, and that generates enough thrust to propel the plane over a sustained, steady flight.
Unlike turbine-powered planes, the aircraft does not depend on fossil fuels to fly. And unlike propeller-driven drones, the new design is completely silent.
“This is the first-ever sustained flight of a plane with no moving parts in the propulsion system,” says Steven Barrett, associate professor of aeronautics and astronautics at MIT. “This has potentially opened new and unexplored possibilities for aircraft which are quieter, mechanically simpler, and do not emit combustion emissions.”
- First ever plane with no moving parts takes flight – The Guardian
- ‘Sci-fi’ plane flies with no moving parts – BBC News
- Flight of an aeroplane with solid-state propulsion, H Xu et al – Nature Magazine (pdf)
- Flight of an aeroplane with solid-state propulsion, H. Xu et al, – Nature Magazine
Audi is developing a new approach to the age-old pursuit of a flying car. Here the electric car does not have built-in wings or rotors but instead docks to a drone-like flight module that carries the car to its destination. So far Audi engineers are testing the concept with 1:4 scale models: Audi is starting to test its ‘all-electric flying and self-driving car’ – Electrek
Some interesting speculation on the impact that technologies such as electric VTOL vehicles, autopiloted cars, hyperloop, etc could have on rural life: Flying cars, robocars and more will rewrite the rural landscape, for good and ill | Brad Ideas
Just as these factors make rural life less of a compromise, they and other forces will make urban life better. Flying vehicles, robocars and many other factors here also make urban commuters shorter, and give even greater and faster access to things for urban dwellers. For those who value many urban things the city will not lose its advantage, though the balance shifts. The ability to have easily accessible vacation property may encourage people who crave both urban and rural living to have both, and to switch between them not just for the weekend.