A futuristic-looking helicopter prototype has attracted an enormous amount of attention just by sitting on the ground at the airshow in Tianjin, China. The ‘Super Great White Shark’ looks like a flying saucer – or a robot vacuum.
Images of the circular rotorcraft appeared online on the eve of the fifth China Helicopter Exposition, which officially opened in Tianjin on Thursday. While in the “initial stage of its design,” according to the machine-translated sign at the exhibit, it is supposed to draw on the “mature” design technologies used in the contemporary US and Russian attack and cargo helicopters.
The sign also claims that a new “conceptual design of propeller blades has been successfully applied in helicopter design.”
A cutaway schematic of the vehicle that has circulated on the Chinese internet shows two pilots seated in the cockpit mounted in the middle of a giant rotor, encased in the saucer-like body of the helicopter.
All of the images and video from Tianjin show the prototype sitting on the ground, rather than in flight. If it actually takes to the skies, this would mean that Chinese helicopter designers have finally solved the challenge of making a functioning rotorcraft – something that has baffled Western inventors since the Second World War.
The most famous of these experiments has to be the VZ-9 Avrocar, the “flying saucer” developed by Avro Canada in 1958 as a secret weapon for the Cold War. It never overcame the thrust and stability problems, however, and was canceled in 1961.
As for the ‘Super Great White Shark,’ some social media users have already noted that it resembles the Roomba family of robotic vacuum cleaners far more than the deep-sea predator it was named after.
Think your friends would be interested? Share this story!