First Ever Plane with No Moving Parts Takes Flight

Discussion in 'HardForum Tech News' started by Megalith, Nov 24, 2018.

  1. Megalith

    Megalith 24-bit/48kHz Staff Member

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    Skeptics are calling it a glorified glider, but an MIT team has managed to build an airplane that uses “ionic wind” to fly, utilizing “a propulsion system that is entirely electrically powered, almost silent, and with a thrust-to-power ratio comparable to that achieved by conventional systems such as jet engines.” This breakthrough technology could lead to carbon-neutral flight and innovations such as silent, unmanned drones and high-altitude, solar-powered craft that could fly “for years on end.”

    In the prototype plane, wires at the leading edge of the wing have 600 watts of electrical power pumped through them at 40,000 volts. This is enough to induce “electron cascades”, ultimately charging air molecules near the wire. Those charged molecules then flow along the electrical field towards a second wire at the back of the wing, bumping into neutral air molecules on the way, and imparting energy to them. Those neutral air molecules then stream out of the back of the plane, providing thrust.
     
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  2. SecretStash

    SecretStash Limp Gawd

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    Affordable civilian flights?
     
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  3. DedEmbryonicCe11

    DedEmbryonicCe11 [H]ard|Gawd

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    For those that don't want to enable flash on the website here is the direct link to the video:


    It's not impressive at all so far. The structure is incredibly flimsy to keep the weight down and still can't fly very far (indoors). With the flat vertical panels on each side of the wings shown in some tests but not in others, I would be amazed if it could handle any kind of crosswinds without crashing immediately.
     
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  4. Joust

    Joust 2[H]4U

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    So, it's a glider.
     
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  5. The Mad Atheist

    The Mad Atheist Gawd

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    Brought to you from The Sharper Image, makers of Ionic Breeze.....
     
  6. timberwolf

    timberwolf Limp Gawd

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    A piss poor glider at that. They also need someone that knows how to fly a radio controlled sailplane. The read a white plane they show crashing in the video could easily cover more than 60 meters just being thrown properly by an adult.
     
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  7. criccio

    criccio Fully Equipped

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    As someone who flys model plans of that size if I didn't read the geadline I would say that's just a shitty glider. Where was the supposed thrust? Control surfaces?

    Maybe I should read the article?
     
  8. viper1152012

    viper1152012 [H]ard|Gawd

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    So if the Wright Glider can be called the first "Airplane" I dont see why this cannot.

    It is a powered flight, right?

    I think people are just too damn symantic
     
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  9. greenman

    greenman Gawd

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    Can't wait to be on a couch flight with a nose-dive landing.
     
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  10. kju1

    kju1 2[H]4U

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    Well a glider is also an airplane...but yeah with a structure that flimsy it will never be practical.

    Still an interesting experiment though. Perhaps it can be adapted to ultra small drones?

    I think you mean turbulence or maybe just gusty winds in general? Crosswind refers to the direction of the wind relative to the intended direction of flight or to the wind relative to the landing runway.
     
  11. DrBorg

    DrBorg Gawd

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    I've designed ion sources; I don't see this being very effective.

    What happens in wet air? :)

    I'd bet the engine stops as soon as the insulators wet.
     
  12. Meeho

    Meeho [H]ardness Supreme

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  13. cyclone3d

    cyclone3d [H]ardForum Junkie

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    And it is launched off of some type of sled.... so it is just a sucky glider. I didn't see anything in that lame video that showed any propulsion by the so called propulsion system.
     
  14. Prisoner849

    Prisoner849 Gawd

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    Japanese physicist aviator porn.
     
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  15. Elios

    Elios [H]ardness Supreme

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    yeah this is big issue or ice...
     
  16. Joust

    Joust 2[H]4U

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    Or wind. Truly, if it cannot get more range under "power" than an unpowered glider with the same launch.. pretty much a fail. I guess the kids got to use some grant money though. That's something.
     
  17. aaronspink

    aaronspink [H]ard|Gawd

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    Christ people, RTFA. It isn't a glider. Right now its range is limited only by the test space, without power it makes it a small faction of the test room, with power, it is limited by the size of the test room...
     
  18. aaronspink

    aaronspink [H]ard|Gawd

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    except it gets more range than an unpowered glider...
     
  19. Arcygenical

    Arcygenical Will Watercool for Crack

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    How many volts do you need, and how much surface area, to precipitate dust/clean a 20x20 room... With a turnover rate of once a day. Would that produce a dangerous level of ozone?
     
  20. Nimisys

    Nimisys Likes To Play With Trannies

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    Anyone remember the "lifters" people used to make out of balsa wood and tooth picks and used a CRT as the power supply? This is the same tech. Going to take a monumental amount of efficiency improvements and density before you see it used with any sort of practicality in atmospheric usage. It is viable now for vacuum use, if you provide a particle to be charged and ejected, and the mass being moved if small enough, or you are not concerned with absurdly low Thrust to Weight ratios.
     
  21. DOhZ2

    DOhZ2 n00b

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    Land before sunset..
     
  22. cyclone3d

    cyclone3d [H]ardForum Junkie

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    There are only clips of the flights. It makes it look like a completely rigged experiment. And until I see a video that shows complete flights with the same exact conditions except for powered/un-powered then I call shens.
     
  23. harbingerofdoom

    harbingerofdoom Gawd

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    its not a glider folks. gliders do just that - glide, they have no thrust. this has thrust. not a glider.

    yup- and the version you speak of was shown on mythbusters long ago... i think they also showed that it would not work in a vacuum in that same episode though if memory serves.
     
  24. kju1

    kju1 2[H]4U

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    Some gliders ARE powered. For what its worth essentially all aircraft are "gliders". Though when I say some are powered I am not referring to what you think of as a traditional aircraft. I am talking about actual gliders who have engines to extend their range.

    Again I see this as more useful for smaller items rather than large scale. If it sounds too good to be probably is.
     
  25. Nimisys

    Nimisys Likes To Play With Trannies

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    It's not being in vacuum, it's the lack of a reaction mass that is an issue... In a pure vacuum, there are too few ions to be charged and expelled. Provide an external source, and it works just fine, albeit at very low Thrust levels.
     
  26. harbingerofdoom

    harbingerofdoom Gawd

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    if it has an engine strapped to it.... its not a glider.

    ....even if you take an actual glider and literally strap an engine of some sort to it.... it has ceased to be a glider as soon as you add any sort of thrust.
     
  27. harbingerofdoom

    harbingerofdoom Gawd

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    .........soooooooooooooooooooooooo............. doesnt work in a vacuum. got it.
     
  28. Nimisys

    Nimisys Likes To Play With Trannies

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    no it still works, it just needs something to work against.
     
  29. kju1

    kju1 2[H]4U

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    You failed to understand the point and the aerodynamics involved in my post.


    Even the FAA definition allows for a motor to be strapped to it and still be legally qualified as a glider. But again you entirely missed the point: ALL aircraft are gliders in some respects. Failure to understand that is a failure to understand basic aerodynamics.

     
  30. M76

    M76 [H]ardForum Junkie

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    Yet they couldn't make it go halfway trough the room on camera. What they say is irrelevant.
    Having no moving parts, so what? that is not a relevant goal. They say it has the same thrust to power ratio as a regular engine, so what's the point? Apart from being extremely fragile, and quite probably impossible to scale up to carry a person let alone 300.
     
  31. aaronspink

    aaronspink [H]ard|Gawd

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    Yeah cause we certainly wouldn't want to research towards a fully solid state high altitude plane with unlimited endurance, that's got no applications.....
     
  32. M76

    M76 [H]ardForum Junkie

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    Solid state engine. You still need moving parts for controls.

    And since satellites took over the role of spy planes there is not much point to high altitude high endurance planes. How would it have unlimited endurance? It still uses electricity to generate thrust. If it has 'comparable' thrust-to-power ratio as a regular jet engine, then it isn't more efficient than a regular engine period. And regular engines use much more power than can be generated by the solar cells they would be able to fit on the surface area of a plane.

    Just because it's solid state propulsion, doesn't mean it uses no power, or less power.
     
  33. BlueFireIce

    BlueFireIce [H]ardness Supreme

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    Having been into RC stuff before....am I the only one who watched the video and thought that the glider would have gone further WITHOUT the "propulsion" system? Looking at the launch system, even as a shitty pilot, I think I could have made at least twice the distance they were making under power.

    Also, what do they mean by "thrust-to-power ratio"? Because they don't give any data.

    They make lots of stupid statements like "proving that heavier-than-air flight is possible without jets or propellers." Uhhhhh.....This has long ago been possible......

    They show how short the flight is without the system on.....But never show how far it would go without the massive system strapped to the glider, they should have removed the system, or had another glider without it to do a back to back, but I am willing to bet the normal glider would have gone further. I would also like to have seen another unit with a normal electric motor and prop using the same battery size on the glider and see how it did. Oh wait, you can buy those now for a few hundred bucks and they can fly for hours, the battery pack is equal to a 2,700mAh 11.1V battery pack and off of that power, they made it 200ft....Wow. A normal glider with normal electric motor and that battery size could go miles.
     
  34. IcePickFreak

    IcePickFreak [H]ard|Gawd

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    Move over MIT, internet engineers are here!
     
  35. Comixbooks

    Comixbooks Ignore Me

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    Dyson
     
  36. tempertantrum

    tempertantrum Limp Gawd

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    Come on, folks... This is budding tech (or at least a somewhat novel use of the tech). Why are you expecting a complete product from researchers? This really isn't that different from the new batteries, memory, or storage devices we read about all the time. No, not all of the work, and most of them only happen under some crazy specific lab conditions at first.

    As a former aerospace engineer, I *do* think this could be useful, for multiple reasons.

    1.) Lower vibrations from mechanical parts might lead to more durability, or a more stable arial platform for cameras.
    2.) This kind of thrust often works best in low atmosphere conditions, where fewer particles can be accelerated to higher velocities. So, no huge thrust:weight ratio, but low fuel requirements. Combine that with the lower atmospheric resistance, and the efficiencies can add up.
    3.) This kind of tech could be applied to many surfaces - think of the balloons that google and others have proposed or even tested for internet access.

    Obviously, all of this depends on a lot of things, like improvements in efficiencies for solar cells, batteries, and the propulsion tech itself. Or maybe it will just wind up being used in 20 years for some completely novel application.

    In short... CHILL OUT.
     
  37. MavericK

    MavericK Zero Cool

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    So something of this size takes 600W? What kind of power is a full-sized aircraft going to need?

    I don't see how it can be "carbon neutral" with that sort of energy requirement.
     
  38. MavericK

    MavericK Zero Cool

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    The Dyson fan has blades (an impeller, actually), they're just inside the base of the unit.
     
  39. Jagger100

    Jagger100 [H]ardness Supreme

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    with an ionic breeze strapped on to delay when it finally crashes down a few seconds.
     
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  40. aaronspink

    aaronspink [H]ard|Gawd

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    Don't need moving parts for controls, can be handled via differential thrusts.

    Sats have their own sets of issues and there is significant interest in high altitude alternatives to sats. And solid state plus solar power leads to unlimited endurance. We already have working solar powered long endurance vehicles, but they are limited by the maint requirements for the moving parts.

    And I never said solid state doesn't use power, don't know where you are pulling that bs from.