NASA Langley researchers designed and built a battery-powered, 10-engine remotely piloted aircraft. The Greased Lightning GL-10 prototype has a 10-foot wingspan and can take off like a helicopter and fly efficiently like an airplane. In this video, engineers successfully transition the plan from hover to wing-borne flight in tests at Fort A.P. Hill in Virginia.
The full-scale GL-10 will be a diesel-electric tilt-wing. Currently, NASA has built a 50% scale 10-foot wing span all electric battery powered demonstrator. The wings and horizontal stabilizer rotate with fixed motor pods to facilitate vertical flight. The wing has eight electric motor driven propellers while the horizontal stabilizer has two. In the future full-scale version, power will be generated by two 6 kW (8 hp) diesel engines which will charge lithium ion batteries. The propellers on the leading edge of the wing provide high speed flow, and thus lift, on the wing even in low forward velocity flight allowing pitch, roll, and yaw control authority during the critical transition phase from hover to forward flight.
The VTOL capability of this new class of UAV eliminates the requirement for additional ground support equipment like launch catapults and landing catch mechanisms. In addition, the propellers are designed for a relatively low tip speed resulting in a marked reduction in noise. The aircraft is designed to complete several vertical take-off and landings during its mission with a loiter endurance of 24 hours in the forward flight mode.The GL-10 performed transitions between vertical and horizontal flight in 2015.