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Puffin: NASA’s Flying Car – Will Never be Produced?

Posted By Hadi On Monday, January 25, 2010 Under
The engineers at NASA have combined every one of our geeky transportation dreams into a single little vehicle called the Puffin. It takes off like a helicopter and flies like a plane. It can cruise at 140 mph and, with a boost mode, hit about twice that. And it’s just electric.

If that sounds too good to be true, it is — for the moment. But give it time. NASA unveiled the concept during the American Helicopter Society meeting (Jan 21, 2010) in San Francisco.

The tilt-rotor Puffin has a flight system similar to the V-22 Osprey, but instead of carrying a bunch of Marines and their gear, the Puffin carries one person in the prone position. The rotors are nearly 7.5 feet in diameter and the aircraft has a wingspan just over 13 feet. Thanks to carbon composite construction, the Puffin weighs in at less than 400 pounds including the lithium phosphate batteries.

The Puffin is designed to stand on its tail, which serves as the landing gear (check out the video). Once the Puffin transitions to horizontal flight, the pilot can cruise at more than 140 miles per hour. Hit the boost mode and this bird will do nearly 300 mph. The projected range is 50 miles on a charge. Yeah, that’s not much, but using electricity means the Puffin’s powerplant won’t be limited by air density. NASA says it should be able to climb under full power to around 30,000 feet before the battery pack would be depleted enough to require coming back down.

Will this concept be realized?


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