Could planes be the first Transformers?
The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency is working on a plane with wings that rotate to accommodate vertical takeoff and landing as well as forward flight — a capability heretofore exclusive to helicopters.
Helicopters have limited speed, maxing out at 150 to 170 knots, according to DARPA. A vertical plane, by contrast, could potentially hit speeds of 300 to 400 knots. Aircraft that can lift off the ground with out a runway are important to military operations because they're less susceptible to enemy fire during take-off. Plus they can land on any flat surface, making them more versatile.
DARPA recently contracted with Aurora Flight Sciences on the initiative, Reuters reports. The research is expected to conclude in 2018.