A version of this article appears in the July 21 edition of Aviation Week & Space Technology. Amid debate over the perils and potentials of unmanned aircraft, it is rare to find one that exists solely to improve the safety and efficiency of manned aircraft. Such a vehicle is Area-I’s Ptera, being developed for NASA as a low-cost, low-risk testbed for advanced controls and configurations. NASA has a history of using unmanned aircraft as subscale platforms for affordably ...

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