Gators got a UFO.

Discovery News has a weird little story about a weird little vehicle coming up out of the swamp. I suppose you could call it a UFFO – a University of Florida Flying Object:

Subrata Roy, a scientist at the University of Florida, calls his aircraft a “wingless electromagnetic air vehicle,” or WEAV, and if it flies he says it could usher in a new age of aircraft design.

In Roy’s WEAV there will be two different sets of electrodes placed on a thin ceramic plate. One set will be located on the top and bottom of the craft to move ionized air down, providing lift, and another set along the sides to propel the aircraft forward. The electrodes create a conducting fluid by ionizing the surrounding air into plasma.

The force created by passing an electrical current through this plasma pushes around the surrounding air, and that air creates lift and momentum and provides stability.

While the aircraft has no moving parts, the entire thing will spin for controllability, the same way that the barrel of a rifle spins a bullet to make it fly straighter.

Pictures of WEAV are at UF’s Computational Plasma Dynamics Laboratory and Test Facility. And there’s more coverage at SciAm.