NASA has unveiled a prototype for a new kind of vehicle which could revolutionize the way we travel. The “Puffin” takes off like a helicopter, flies like a plane and sounds like a car. “No one has ridden inside a Puffin as yet. Right now, it’s a subscale model without a body or tails. But the electric-powered vehicle already has aced one of its most difficult goals: quiet flight. ‘It’s a 10 times reduction in noise from the quietest helicopters today,’ said Mark Moore, an aerospace engineer at NASA’s Langley Research Center in Hampton, Va. That’s important if personal air vehicles are ever going to bridge the gap between commercial air transport and the family car. ‘It’s inevitable that someday more and more people will take to the air in on-demand vehicles,’ Moore told Discovery News. ‘It will happen. There’s just no other way to achieve fast, on-demand, high-speed travel.’ The idea is to develop an air-based transport system that doesn’t require people to drive long distances to airports to board planes for relatively short flights. ‘We’re not trying to replace the car or the airplane,’ Moore said. ‘Cars are great at what they do, which is go a couple of miles at relatively slow speeds. Commercial air carriers are great at going long distances at faster speeds. But what happens when we want to go 100 or 200 or 300 miles? We have to take this very long drive.’”
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