Heaviside - HVSD - is the prototype electric commuter aircraft created by Kitty Hawk.
HVSD isnít parked on a large runway or giant helipad. The aircraft, which weighs about one-third of a Cessna, is on a section of asphalt not much bigger than its wingspan. Just beyond this man-made parking spot are acres of grassland and the occasional tree. There is no runway to be found.
The aircraft is 100 times quieter than a helicopter, the pair said. And itís faster. Thrun says HVSD, which has a range of about 100 miles, can travel from San Jose to San Francisco in 15 minutes. The aircraft can be flown autonomously or manually, but even then most of the tasks of flying are handled by the computer, not the human.
Unlike a helicopter, the HVSD starts and lifts off in just seconds. There is sound as it lifts off ó hitting about 80 decibels ó but whatís striking is the brevity. The take-off sound lasts fewer than 10 seconds. As HVSD gains altitude and then circles above us, the only sound is a few engineers and technicians talking nearby.
In his 1930 novel The Black Star Passes, sf great John W. Campbell writes about an aircraft powered by electricity (in this case, from solar power).
"Dad, I believe that you have been trying to develop a successful solar engine. One that could be placed in the wings of a plane to generate power from the light falling on that surface..."
(Read more about Campbell's solar-powered aircraft)
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