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I feel I should add one more thing. This whole thing is about being able to carry a power supply using ion propulsion. Using a combination of a bungee cord/catapult and large wings for assistance is one way to do it. Alternatively, it can be made much more powerful and efficient by weight. The previously patented device, the "Self Contained Ion Powered Aircraft," (since 2014 legally), has been officially shown to work. There have been huge devices in the past that flew using ion propulsion but all such devices were orders of magnitude away from carrying the weight of their power supplies. Pretty much none of this is about size, it is almost entirely about power to weight ratio and efficiency.
The statements made by this team to Nature Magazine, especially on the video, are not correct. MIT is the SECOND IN HISTORY to fly an ion propelled aircraft with the power supply onboard. The first one predates the MIT device by about a decade. It is called the "Self Contained Ion Powered Aircraft," US Patent No. 10,119,527. It flies for about 2 minutes solely using ion propulsion. It does not need external assistance to take off or remain airborne. To learn more Please visit the video and website shown below, The website: One of the videos:
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Jan 5, 2019