Imagine cruising to work at 150 mph with no red lights to slow you down. NASA engineer Mark Moore has imagined it, and is trying to make it reality with his personal transportation craft, the Puffin.
The proposed aircraft would be small and very lightweight – about 300lbs (136kg) empty weight, plus another 100lbs (45kg) of battery and 200lbs (91kg) for the pilot or payload. To get off the ground, the Puffin would be propelled by 60hp of electric motors, designed to still be able to produce the required power to hover even if any two of the powertrain components on either side failed.
To take in the views on offer (or complete a mission), the Puffin would have a top speed of 150mph (241kph), but could cruise more efficiently at lower speeds. Current battery technology dictates the range would be around 50 miles (80km) before the Puffin would be looking for a safe place to land.
While the initial range of 50 miles is strikingly low (I would max that out on my daily commute), battery technology is advancing at a quick pace. 200 miles wouldn’t be unreasonable soon.
But really, how useful is it if you can’t take a date?