NASA has released a new video showing the onboard view from ‘Greased Lightning’—a 10-engine tilt-wing electric drone.
Filmed in 360 degrees the video shows the GL-10 in all stages of flight, showing the aircraft’s ability to take-off vertically like a helicopter, before rotating its swept wing to fly like a plane.
While the video makes the transition look easy, the engineers who designed tilt-rotors will tell you that flying, particularly via remote control, is no easy task because of the challenging aerodynamics.
The GL-10 has a three-metre wingspan with eight electric motors, with another two motors on the tail; making a combined take-off weight of 28.1 kg.
Flight Safety Australia reported on ‘Greased Lightning’ after its first successful transition flight, where researchers were hoping to prove that the GL-10 is four times more efficient in the air than a helicopter.
The video also shows how remotely piloted aircraft might be flown via virtual reality in the future.
Currently, controlling a drone via a first-person view and a virtual reality headset restricts the pilot’s vision only to what the onboard camera can see. But with advancements in video and virtual reality technology, pilots might one day be able to have an onboard 360-degree view from the ground.
NASA sees this research project as part of a wider effort to ‘reduce the technical barriers associated with integrating unmanned aerial vehicles into the skies.’
You can read more about NASA’s project via its website.