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NASA testing new battery powered electric plane

The current issue surrounding personal aircraft is the cost factor. Not only do private jets that seat under a dozen people cost millions to buy, but fuel for a flight will set you back a few thousand pounds each ride.

NASA is working on a way to fix that, by creating a four man battery-powered airplane capable of working as a pseudo-drone and a short flight carrier. The electric plane features 10 engines and is capable of taking off vertically, similar to a rocket.

The current prototype is focused on crop overview and personal surveillance. Instead of having a drone that retires after 45 minutes in the air, this new plane would be capable of maintaining high altitude and attachable equipment is available.

For the most part, NASA is not focused on personal surveillance. It wants to a build an electric plane capable of matching the speeds of gasoline planes, without the noise pollution and expensive fuel costs associated with other planes.

It plans to make the helicopter irrelevant through the vertical takeoff process alongside the four times better aerodynamic efficiency even in cruise mode. NASA has not detailed how it plans on commercialising the technology, if it even plans on taking that course of action.

NASA is more likely to show the technology is there, before allowing private companies the chance to look into the underbelly of the electric plane and see how it all works. Companies like DJI - the Chinese drone manufacturer - might have better luck commercialising these small electric planes.

Even though some may be wondering why NASA is involved in aircraft, the department has become much more than space travel.

It works on environmental issues like global warming, even though Republican 2016 nominee Ted Cruz is trying to cut NASA’s funding to make it focus on space travel.

David has been a technology journalist for over six years, covering a wide range of sectors. He currently researches apps, app sectors and app markets for Business of Apps, and has written for ITProPortal, RTInsights, ReadWrite, and Digital Trends.