It seems to be a great idea, but it may not quite work.
NASA wanted to show that many smaller electric motors would be more efficient than two large ones. The challenges were to not only have an all electric airplane, but to show the value of smaller motors.
However, the complexity of coordinating multiple motors may be its downfall.
“It turned out to be actually a pretty tall order to work through all of those airworthiness, and qualification, and design challenges.”
says Sean Clarke, NASA.
But every engineer knows that electric motors are more weight efficient and pound for pound more powerful than a fuel powered engine. But energy storage is the problem, liquid fuel pound for pound stores an order of magnitude more energy than any known battery. So the weight of the batteries it too heavy for the airplane despite the savings with the motor.
They are out of funding now, and not sure if the work will continue.