Meet Greased Lightning; NASA’s Hybrid Innovation that Propels Flight Mechanism

May 8, 2015, By Sanjeev Ramachandran

Not all hybrid technologies are bound to be pecking around the ground surface all the time, some are meant to be propelled up to the sky too.

We are speaking of NASA’s new technical shake up that puts together the flight modes of a helicopter and an airplane.

The name is GL-10; Greased Lightning with the integer part being posed for the ten engines used in it. The demonstration of this electrical plane was carried out at the test center located at Langley Va.


What this unmanned aerial vehicle brings in is the capability to lift off in the manner of a helicopter, carrying forward the motion linearly like an airplane.

To achieve this unique hybrid mix, NASA has distributed eight propellers along the wing span of GL-10, which combined with the pivoting wing structure, lift the GL-10 for the hybrid flight.

The wingspan measures around 10-ft in length, weighing 62 pounds. The two extra propellers are attached to the tail side of the vehicle.

The initial plot was to fabricate a 20-foot wingspan that would be powered by the hybrid diesel/electric technology. The model was cut short in the design for the test phase, with around 12 prototypes brought about using rapid prototyping.

NASA explains that the intent is to make the technology reach out to the modern days for cost-cutting measures in various areas.

One among the desired area is for small scale package deliveries. GL-10 may also find the space in normal UAV surveillance task covering agriculture, mapping and other departments.

NASA has also not ruled out the possibility of the development of a mini aircraft using the technology that could accommodate up to four persons, which seems farfetched as of now.

GL-10 will be put on display at Association for Unmanned Vehicles Systems International 2015 conference in Atlanta this week.

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