Available Technology

Vertical take-off and landing vehicle with increased cruise efficiency

Systems, methods, and devices are provided that combine an advance vehicle configuration, such as an advanced aircraft configuration, with the infusion of electric propulsion, thereby enabling a four times increase in range and endurance while maintaining a full vertical takeoff and landing (“VTOL”) and hover capability for the vehicle. Embodiments may provide vehicles with both VTOL and cruise efficient capabilities without the use of ground infrastructure. An embodiment vehicle may comprise a wing configured to tilt through a range of motion, a first series of electric motors coupled to the wing and each configured to drive an associated wing propeller, a tail configured to tilt through the range of motion, a second series of electric motors coupled to the tail and each configured to drive an associated tail propeller, and an electric propulsion system connected to the first series of electric motors and the second series of electric motors.
Patent Abstract: 
NASA Langley Research Center has developed Greased Lightning, the first UAV that combines vertical take-off and landing (VTOL) capability with long endurance flight. Previously these two capabilities have been considered mutually exclusive. For example, helicopters offer VTOL capability, yet are inefficient for long-endurance travel. The UAV market is large (multi-billion USD) and growing, with a global reach and many regional markets. This presents numerous opportunities and entry points for a new and superior UAV technology.

Combines vertical take-off and landing (VTOL) capability with long endurance flight enabled by the aerodynamic efficiency of the design


Surveillance (optical, IR, SAR, and other sensor payloads)

Live event coverage

Large area field surveys

Industrial inspections


Sandy R. Webb

William M. Langford

David D. North

Mark D. Moore

William J. Fredericks

William T. Hodges

Christopher T. Laws

Paul M. Rothhaar

Ronald C. Busan

Zachary R. Johns

Patent Number: 
Internal Laboratory Ref #: 
Patent Status: 
Patent Issue Date: 
November 25, 2016
Lab Representatives
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