Meet the Hybrid Electric Integrated Systems Testbed, or HEIST.
If it looks like the Doof Warrior from Mad Max: Fury Road should be riding on top, wielding a flamethrower-guitar hybrid while Max and Furiosa haul ass through the wastelands, I can't disagree with you. In reality, this ridiculous thing is used by NASA to test new electric aircraft technologies, like a weird wing with 18 tiny propellers on it.
News of the test rig isn't new, nor is NASA's interest in exploring electrification as a viable technology for the future of aviation — the work for this testing has been going on since last May. But this particular photo stood out in a NASA post this week, a reminder that the line separating air and space research from post-apocalyptic warfare in the Australian Outback is a very thin line indeed.
After testing of the wing is complete, NASA hopes to fit an actual aircraft called "Sceptor" — a modified Tecnam P2006T — with the crazy 18-motor wing in about a year's time. A passenger plane fitted with this insanity will look weird, too — just not quite as weird as a winged semi truck barreling through the desert.
I'm sure the Doof Warrior would agree.
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