NASA has just unveiled its first all-electric aircraft prototype, and as a commuter tool, the X-57 Maxwell is expected to be quieter, more efficient and more environmentally friendly than current aircraft. It’s also NASA’s first X-Series model in two decades. Although the X-57 Maxwell has no plans to go into space, the all-electric vehicle is likely to have long-term effects in the future.
(Image via Slash Gear)
The X-57 Maxwell is understood to be part of NASA’s efforts to set safety standards for the next generation of electric aircraft. Several companies are already working on similar projects to replace the noisy, fuel-efficient and difficult-to-maintain internal combustion engine types in the commute.
Given that there is currently no certification standard for such aircraft, NASA hopes to change that by advancing the X-57 program.
Once the project is complete, NASA will work with regulators to share the design and airworthiness program, which focuses on electric propulsion, with the aviation industry, the agency said.
This is especially important for Uber and other companies that are considering “flying taxis” to operate in densely populated urban areas.
X-57 Maxwell Electric Flight Flight Simulation (via)
The delivery of this X-57 Mod II prototype reflects some of the advantages of electric aircraft over ICE. Based on the tecnam P2006T improvement, the traditional fuel engine has been replaced with a cruise motor.
The newly designed driver increases the efficiency of high-speed cruises by 500% while achieving zero carbon emissions in flight. For communities on the ground, this can provide a quieter experience.
Initially, NASA conducted ground tests of the Mod II new aircraft at the Armstrong Flight Research Center in Edwards, California, and had a simulator to try out different ideas.
NASA staff say its ultimate goal is to test electric flying taxis, which could happen as soon as late 2020.
It should be noted that although the current prototype is very similar to a conventional aircraft, NASA’s final design will be very different.
In addition to the large cruise motors located at both ends of the wing, it is equipped with six smaller motors and has a thruster on the wing.
They will play a role in the aircraft’s take-off and landing and shrink back during flight to improve aerodynamic efficiency on the way.
Of course, due to battery technology and range, electric aircraft are better suited for short commutes than long-haul flights.