If at first your unmanned aerial vehicles don't succeed... try, try again? After a series of unsuccessful tests with the Boeing X-50 Dragonfly and Groen Heliplane, the US government is once again trying to develop a high-speed, vertical takeoff-and-landing (VTOL) aircraft. DARPA just announced the VTOL X-Plane program, a 52-month, $130 million project with one mission: to build an aircraft that can exceed 300 knots, achieve a hover efficiency of 75 percent or better, and hit a cruise lift-to-drag ratio of 10 or more.
In layman's terms, such an aircraft would be faster than a traditional helicopter, but still have better hover efficiency than a modern high-speed 'copter. Sounds like a sensible idea, right? The thing is, DARPA doesn't know yet how such a thing would look: for now, the agency is merely soliciting proposals, with a particular emphasis on smaller, non-traditional companies nimble enough to develop products quickly. So if you've got any good ideas, may as well head on over to the source link, we guess, and try your luck.