Inspired in part by the technology of Star Trek, the MIT aircraft is powered by a relatively obscure principle known as ion propulsion or electroaerodynamic thrust.
Scientists have developed a radical new approach toward flying in the form of a small, lightweight and virtually noiseless airplane that gets airborne and flies with no moving parts like propellers or turbine blades.
The aircraft is driven by an array of wires strung below its wings, which strip electrons from air molecules - which then flow towards negatively charged wires at the back of the plane. If enough voltage is applied, the resulting "ionic wind" can produce a thrust without the help of motors or fuel and power a small plane. "The future of flight shouldn't be things with propellors and turbines and should be more like what you see in Star Trek", Professor Steven Barrett, of the MA...
Experts say it could be the future of air travel as the plane is battery-less, noiseless and most importantly is in no way bad for the environment.
"It should be more like what you see in Star Trek with a kind of blue glow and something that silently glides through the air".
Academic engineers in the United States have built and flown the first-ever aircraft with no moving parts and no combustion, portending the possible dawn of a novel aerodynamics technology almost 115 years after the Wright brothers flew the first heavier-than-air machine.
'This has potentially opened new and unexplored possibilities for aircraft which are quieter, mechanically simpler, and do not emit combustion emissions'.
The remaining molecules, now ionized, are attracted to the negatively charged electrodes in the wires at the back of the wing. The MIT team's plane weighs only five pounds, and still depends on a stack of lithium-polymer batteries to provide the 40,000 volts necessary for flight. The researchers used batteries and an innovative power converter to create an electrical field along a fine wire.
The engineers readily acknowledge their V2 prototype is inefficient and limited, but it could lead to big things.
The technology to create ionic wind has been around since the 1960s, but it was previously thought nowhere near efficient enough to prove useful to aeronautics.
It was a sleepless night in a hotel when I was jet-lagged, and I was thinking about this and started searching for ways it could be done, he recalls.
In the immediate future, the MIT team hope to increase the range and speed of the plane, primarily by scaling up the size of the overall machine.
Since the first aeroplane flight more than 100 years ago, aeroplanes have been propelled using moving surfaces such as propellers and turbines.
What might look like a Star Wars aircraft-lookalike uses "ionic wind" to propel itself through the air.
The researchers conducted 11 test flights in which V2 flew about 200 feet (60 meters), typically flying less than 6.5 feet (2 meters) off the ground.
It listed possible military applications including the development of silent drones and aircraft, and engines with no infrared signal and thus impossible to detect.
Moving forward, the team's next challenge is to improve their design's efficiency, producing more ionic wind with less voltage.
Prof Barrett told the Telegraph that while it will take "several decades" for the technology to be advanced enough to power passenger aircraft, unmanned aircraft with wingspan of up to 80 ft will be possible in the "nearer term".