One of the largest drones you’ll ever likely to see in our skies in the near future is the 10-engine monstrous unmanned vehicle so-called “Greased Lightning” – and a series of test flights were so successful, NASA believes new types of unmanned vehicles could be constructed to carry people in the near future.
The prototype version of Greased Lightning (known by NASA engineers as GL 10) has successfully completed a series of test flights across the skies above Virginia. A military base is just two hours’ drive from the NASA Research Center at Langley, Virginia. And it was here that GL 10 took to the skies and completed a series of test flights.
Uses for a Drone like Greased Lightning 10
The test flights took place over March and April 2015 and once airborne it flies more or less like a standard plane would. Upon take-off it kind of acts like a helicopter, rising vertically before flying off on its merry way.
So why would we want to use these drones? Drones have made headlines across the world in the past two years as the latest must-have gadget for techno enthusiasts to own. They can create great shots or capture video from heights exceeding a tower block. In recent months, Amazon chief Jeff Bezos announced he would like to deliver some of his company’s parcels by drone. The Japanese have been using drones to spray crops and the unmanned vehicles are proving invaluable to archaeologists in discovering ancient burial sites which can be seen only from the air.
The advantages of using drones of this size are numerous; never mind sending parcels from online trading websites, what about supplying undeveloped countries and remote areas with medicines and vaccines by delivery, the benefits are huge.
Under The Hood of the Greased Lightning Drone
GL 10 is super long and has a wingspan of some 10 feet (3.0 meters) and with 10 engines to power this huge beast, its small wonder its development is turning heads. Of the 10 engines, eight can be found on the wings and two more are positioned at the tail.
Greased Lightning is rather on the heavy side at 28 kg (62 lbs) and is ideally used for things like mapping as well as other NASA activities. Aerospace engineers at NASA have confidently stated that a larger version of the GL 10 could be used to fly up to four persons within the drone itself.
NASA performed five test flights on the GL 10 and each time it demonstrated that it was able to take off just like a conventional helicopter and fly like a plane when commanded.
In all, five prototypes were built, ranging in size from a small 2.3 kg model to a larger 25 kg design. Each time NASA made a new prototype it got them closer to the aircraft’s eventual weight and design. It allowed the agency to answer technical questions and keep costs down, while developing a drone fit for the future.