The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) has moved a step closer to realizing its long-standing goal of creating an unmanned vertical take-off and landing (VTOL) aircraft, after awarding the second phase of its design contract to Aurora Flight Sciences. The design, as can be seen in the video below, is pretty damn awesome.
Using a 4,000 horsepower engine to generate 3 megawatts of electricity in order to power 24 ductless fans, the finished craft should be able to majestically rise from the ground at a 90-degree angle, with a seamless transition from hover to flight mode.
To win the contract, Aurora had to come up with a concept that would satisfy DARPA’s rigorous demands. For instance, the plane has to be able to sustain a top speed of between 300 and 400 knots (345 to 460 miles per hour). In addition, it must be able to carry a load of up to 40 percent of its own weight, which is projected to be around 4,500 kilograms (10,000 pounds).
Known as the X-Plane, the vehicle should offer superior performance to existing VTOL aircraft such as the Bell Boeing V-22 Osprey, despite using the same engine.