Imagine drones without propellers and turbines or any moving parts. That’s what researchers from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) invited in 2018. It was a small aircraft flying in a sports hall, but it made NASA so excited to back that project.
According to MIT aerospace engineering professor Steven Barrett, noisy drones belong to the past. Stealthy drones that would glide instead of flying and delivering packages at night in perfect silence in the future.
However, Barrett became one of the fellows of the NASA Innovative Advanced Concepts program. To advance this technology, The space agency awarded Barrett’s team $175,000 over the next nine months. NASA has a huge interest in innovative aviation technology.
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How this silent drone is going to fly without moving parts? The answer is by using an “ion drive”. The “ion drive” accelerates air particles, that would generate an “ionic wind” that helps the aircraft glide.
Researchers equipped several electrodes located beneath the wings, which help to create a high-voltage electric field. Using this method ionizes and accelerates nitrogen particles, and led to having an “ionic wind” that propels the aircraft forward.
For now, this “electro-aerodynamic propulsion system” can’t be used for large aircraft or at high altitudes. But researchers at MIT may solve this problem in the near future.