NASA is working to make a more efficient, electric-powered plane, and the proposed wings for it look like something out of a dream. Eighteen small engines sit atop the 31-foot wingspan and work together to lift and propel the plane forward. The wings are part of NASA's Leading Edge Asynchronous Propellers Technology (LEAPTech) project.
The propellers are all electric, powered by lithium iron phosphate batteries. Each propeller can be operated independently at various speeds to optimize power, with all 18 engines providing lift during takeoff.
If this all sounds too good to be true, that's because it is — for now. NASA will ground test the wings over the next several months. During the testing stage, the wings will be mounted to a modified truck called the Hybrid-Electric Integrated Systems Testbed (HEIST), and the truck will drive up to 70 mph across a dry lakebed in California. LEAPTech's final planned cruising speed will be 200 mph with a maximum electric-powered reach of 230 mph, Popular Science reports.
Researchers hope once the LEAPTech wing is improved, it can be used to create a new environmentally and economically efficient X-plane.