Too Late for Boxing Day*, Ehang Delivers the Goods

Dean Sigler Batteries, Electric Powerplants, Sky Taxis, Sustainable Aviation 0 Comments

Broadcast live on December 24, this demonstration of the eHang 184 is, interestingly, an English-language presentation, with a lot of English names floating about. Someone named Mike shows off the Ehang 184 in this Christmas-related special.  His friend Miranda snugs herself into the compact passenger compartment, tries on the safety harnesses, and deplanes before committing aviation.  The video is a sales pitch for the drone manufacturer – actually more of a long wind-up before a pitch into the air.  Mike takes us through a tutorial on the craft, which seats one passenger and has eight propellers that are mounted on four arms (one-eight-four, or 184). The rather ungainly entrance and exit of the petite young woman suggests possible improvements eHang’s designers …

Aurora Flight Sciences Win DARPA Award for Advanced VTOL

Dean Sigler Electric Powerplants, Hybrid Aircraft, Sustainable Aviation 0 Comments

Electric Aircraft Symposia attendees will be familiar with presentations by Dr. John S. Langford, Chairman and CEO of Aurora Flight Sciences, an aeronautical firm continuously redefining the leading edge of aerial technology.  He has shared the firm’s achievements in autonomous flight, with the company’s Centaur, a twin-engine light twin going from takeoff to landing at a distant airport without the need for pilot intervention. With other research projects on solar power, high altitude reconnaissance, and future “double-bubble” wide-body airliners, Aurora apparently showed enough innovative capacity to win an award from the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) for its newest X-Plane, an unpiloted vertical takeoff and landing speedster called Lightning Strike. This Phase 2 award takes from a preliminary design …

EAS IX: Aurora Flight Science Set Records without Pilots

Dean Sigler Diesel Powerplants, Electric Powerplants, Sustainable Aviation 0 Comments

John Langford, CEO of Aurora Flight Sciences, has been demonstrating autonomous aircraft for years – a fact he has shared with Electric Aircraft Symposium audiences several times.  This year he gave a brief history of Aurora, starting with the Sunlight Eagle, an adaptation of the Michelob Light Eagle, a human-powered aircraft that preceded the most successful long-distance flight by an HPA – the Daedalus with a 76-mile trip over the Mediterranean. The 2009 craft was originally powered with bicycle-like pedals and still holds four world records for human-powered flight. For its two test flights at Las Cruces International Airport, the pedals were replaced with solar panels, an electric motor, a high-performance battery, and a flight control system.  Even with all …

NASA, CAFE Aims and Goals Converge

Dean Sigler Diesel Powerplants, Electric Powerplants, GFC, Sustainable Aviation 0 Comments

Charles F. Bolden, Jr., a retired U. S. Marine Corps Major General, astronaut and now NASA Administrator,  had enough adventures in any one of his careers to have made several who’s who lists.  The twelfth administrator of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, his previous careers included 34-years in the Marine Corps during which he spent 14 years as a member of NASA’s Astronaut Office,  traveled to orbit four times on the space shuttle, deployed the Hubble Space Telescope, and flew on the first U. S.-Russian joint shuttle mission. As a Marine fighter pilot, he flew over 100 combat missions during the Vietnam conflict; and during the first half of 1998, served as Commanding General of the 1st Marine Expeditionary …

Fixed Wings Find Their Way

Dean Sigler Electric Powerplants, Sustainable Aviation 0 Comments

Dynamic presentations by Sebastian Thrun and Nicholas Roy have alerted and informed CAFE Foundation’s Electric Aircraft Symposia attendees of highly sophisticated efforts to allow autonomous full-size automobiles and miniature helicopters to navigate through or over unfamiliar terrain. Using clues from lasers, infrared sensors, inertial guidance systems and sometimes GPS coordinates, the vehicles use control algorithms to guide themselves around obstacle-strewn courses. As noted in Science Daily and the The Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s press office this week, “Dozens of research teams have competed in a series of autonomous-helicopter challenges posed by the Association for Unmanned Vehicle Systems International (AUVSI); progress has been so rapid that the last two challenges have involved indoor navigation without the use of GPS.” Mini-copters have …

The Autonomous Swift

Dean Sigler Electric Powerplants 0 Comments

There were two presentations on the Swift ultralight flying wing at this year’s Electric Aircraft Symposium.  Dr Steve Morris of the MLB Company related the flight testing of a manned version of the craft, which had been and is being modified by a group of NASA researchers.  That NASA team presented material on the unmanned version of the Swift, as modified to allow autonomous flight.  Three industrious and inventive souls, Corey Ipollito, Paul Espinosa, and Al Weston, presented their work on the Swift Unmanned Aerial System (UAS), which they are undertaking with a small team of experts as a mostly volunteer effort at NASA Ames Research Center at Moffett Field, California.  Ilan Kroo’s famous design has had many variants, including …