Puffin: NASA’s Concept Vehicle
It seems that the days of climbing into an air vehicle and jetting down to the shops is getting closer. The jet pack may have paved the way for the latest concept vehicle released by NASA, known as the Puffin. Bridging the gap between conventional motor vehicles and personal air travel is becoming a reality and it might just be that Puffins are the new generation of transport for the public. But NASA has also made it very clear that it is developing the Puffin not as a future product but it is only a project to create a new technology.
The Puffin is a breakthrough in transportation, as NASA sees this aircraft to be the technology that will bridge the gap between today and the future. It has not achieved long flight as yet, as it is still in various stages of design and testing. The flight system that has been selected for the Puffin is very similar to what is found on the V-22 Osprey. Two rotors provide the Puffin with power to take to flight, and it has a wingspan of thirteen feet, or 4.1 meters. In total the Puffin weighs approximately a hundred and thirty five kilograms, without including the weight of its batteries. To reduce noise levels the aircraft was designed to be electric, and therefore has lithium phosphate batteries that are rechargeable and add an extra forty-five kilograms to the Puffin. Due to the Puffin lifting off and landing in the same way a helicopter would, it will be fitted with spring legs and it is believed that the aircraft will be able to reach speeds of approximately 140 miles per hour, or 240 kilometers per hour. As the Puffin is an electric aircraft, it is seen as an environmentally friendly aircraft, and engineers have managed to make the Puffin even quieter than the present day low-noise helicopters, emitting approximately fifty decibels.
It has been built to only accommodate one person. The Puffin prototype was designed and engineered by the National Institute of Aerospace, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, M-DOT Aerospace and the Georgia Institute of Technology. The Puffin is a step into a new direction, where technology, dreams and environmentally friendly alternatives can be explored.