Flying ambulance drone heading for take off
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Flying ambulance drone heading for take off

Israeli-made Cormorant could be used to rescue people in dangerous situations, or ferry troops in combat

Stuart Winer is a breaking news editor at The Times of Israel.

A revolutionary drone aircraft, big enough to carry people, could be whizzing through the skies within a few years, Reuters reported on Tuesday.

Manufacturers of the Cormorant, formerly known as the AirMule, hope to see what has been dubbed a “flying car” on the aviation market by 2020.

The UAV has been in development for 15 years by Yavneh-based Urban Aeronautics, who envision it being used as an air ambulance for tricky rescue missions in tight urban environments or for moving troops around the battlefield.

Weighing in at 1.5 tons, the drone can carry a payload of up to 500 kg (1,100 pounds), uses internal rotors to keep itself aloft and can zoom along at 185 kilometers an hour (115 miles per hour). It can be remotely piloted or set to fly autonomously.

A first solo flight was made in November and, despite some minor glitches, the company considered the sortie a success. It is now aiming to see the Cormorant meet safety and other standards of the US Federal Aviation Administration, an achievement that would open up global markets for the vehicle.

Speaking to Reuters, Urban Aeronautics founder and CEO Rafi Yoeli said, “Just imagine a dirty bomb in a city and chemical substances of something else and this vehicle can come in robotically, remotely piloted, come into a street and decontaminate an area.”

The company claims the stocky, box-like flying machine has an advantage over helicopters: its internal blades make it safer to fly between buildings and beneath power lines.

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