Electric Aircraft Competition Wraps, With $1.35M Prize For Plane That Out-Economizes A Prius

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A little more than a year ago, we posted about the possibilities of electric aircraft. At the time, we also mentioned an upcoming competition that would test the mettle of these flying batteries: the CAFE Green Flight Challenge. It’s a NASA event (and purse), sponsored by Google, which like the X-Prize aims to fund innovation through competition. Entrants would have to fly 200 miles in under two hours, while using less than a gallon of fuel (or equivalent energy) per passenger.

Tough terms, but 10 teams put their designs in flight in a quiet, efficient battle for the $1.35 million prize.

The competition just wrapped last week, and the winners were revealed at an expo in Mountain View on Monday. The team taking home the big prize was Pipistrel’s Taurus G-4. The four-seater more than doubled the required 100 passenger MPGe, traveling the 200 mile test distance with the electrical equivalent of just over over one gallon of gas, and at an average speed of over 100MPH as well. Here they are holding up their “very large check”:

The runner-up was e-Genius, a two-seater that hit 375 PMPGe. It received $120,000, plus a bonus prize for being the quietest: at takeoff, they recorded only around 60 decibels. That’s probably about as loud as me typing this.

Joe Parrish, NASA’s acting CTO, said that the $1.6 million in funding used to create the competition had generated over $4 million in spending by teams and their sponsors. The winning team, from Penn State (but actually based in Slovenia), vowed to reserve $100,000 of their prize money for a future competition for supersonic electric aircraft. Elon Musk, who has evinced interest in creating such a fantastic conveyance, is no doubt pleased at this development.

[via GizMag; photos: NASA]