Sunnyvale, CA óNASA Ames Research Center and Millennium Jet, Inc. here are working under a cooperative agreement during development of the company's SoloTrek XFV (Exo-Skeletor Flying Vehicle), a one-person air scooter that someday may fly commuters above traffic jams (see DN 9/6/99, p. 28).
Aeronautical engineers see potential for such air scooters as future personal transportation systems. These vehicles could be built for one or multiple passengers with the ability to take off and land vertically and to be operated either autonomously or manually with "car-like" controls.
"Our researchers worked with engineers from Millennium Jet to test one of the air scooter's two fan assemblies in a wind tunnel to determine if they can overcome gravity and raise the vehicle from the ground," said engineer William Warmbrodt, head of the Aeromechanics Branch at NASA Ames. "We are doing this test in a wind tunnel because it's safe (a person does not have to pilot the vehicle). The test provides accurate lift-force data, and we can evaluate the duct and fan system throughout its operating envelope under carefully controlled conditions," Warmbrodt said.
Millennium Jet founder and CEO Michael Moshier reports the tests showed, "The ducted fan produces close to the predicted efficiencies of more than seven pounds of thrust per horsepower. The fan demonstrated operation without buffeting or flow separation during transition from hover to cruise, and can generate sufficient side moments to provide required aircraft control authority."
The air scooter tests took place late last year in the 7-by 10-foot wind tunnel operated for NASA Ames by the U.S. Army and the Army/NASA Rotorcraft Division.