Engineers from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology have developed a lightweight, noiseless vehicle with no moving parts that could revolutionise air travel as we know it.
The V2 is a small aircraft capable of lifting two metres off the ground and covering 60 metres. While that might not sound too impressive – it did so without propellers, turbine blades and the use of fossil fuel.
MIT engineers conducted a series of 11 successful test flights at the duPont Athletic Center in Cambridge, Massachusetts.
The unpublicised and currently undervalued breakthrough could end up changing human flight forever.
MIT aerospace engineer Steven Barrett, told Reuters:
“I’m trying not to over-sell it, but there are some really exciting possibilities here.”
Barrett is the lead researcher on the project, and the team’s findings have been published in science journal Nature.
“The future of flight shouldn’t be things with propellers and turbines,” writes Barrett. “And should be more like what you see in Star Trek, with blue glow and something that silently glides through the air.”
The experimental aircraft has no moving parts, and was built to be as light as possible by using materials like balsa wood, carbon-fibre, Kevlar, and polystyrene.
Rather than conventional engines, the V2 uses an array of thin filaments called emitters, located at the front of the wings, and a series of airfoils in the back.
The filaments at the front emit +20,000 volt, drawing ionised nitrogen from the atmosphere. At the same time, airfoils at the back emit -20,000 volts, creating an electric field between the two that accelerates the wind around the wings and allows the craft to fly.
What is called electro aerodynamic aeroplane propulsion is a truly mind-boggling concept. It opens up the possibilities for aircraft – and other vehicles – that are quieter, more efficient and don’t use harmful fossil fuels to operate.
We could be witnessing history in the making.