Testing electric propulsion at Armstrong Flight Research Center
MOAR PROPS! As Jebediah Kermin would say.
NASA strapped 18 electric driven propellers to a wing, strapped the wing to a truck and ran the truck across the Rogers Dry Lakebed to gain science.
The idea isn’t new, but wasn’t possible until recently. Get rid of the giant propeller that would typically pull a small aircraft along, and replace it with a bunch of tiny props along the leading edge of the wing. Using electric motors, you’d enable greater control, cut down on the decibel levels, and be able to use sweet renewable energy.
Why props along the leading edge? It makes sense, really. The props create additional air velocity along the wing, basically, free additional lift. Not only that, but each prop can spin independently, offering more fine-tuned control.
The truck made two runs today. 40mph into a headwind, and 65mph with a tailwind. The team gathered valuable data. In 2017, an aircraft will be outfitted with a similar wing for in-flight testing.
It is estimated in the near-term about 50% of commuter flights can be done with hybrid-electric technology