After nearly 15 years of development, the world’s first ‘flying car’ completed its first automated solo flight over terrain. Urban Aeronautics, an Israeli tech firm, claims that they will be able to get their passenger carrying drone into the market by the year 2020.
The 1.5 ton dark green passenger carrying drone is named “The Cormorant” but is sometimes referred to as the “Air Mule” by developers. It is capable of carrying approximately 1,100 pounds of weight and can travel up to 115 miles per hour. The aircraft is slightly larger than a typical family vehicle.
Footage of the “Air Mule” during a test flight from 2013 can be seen below.
The “Air Mule” has been criticized as little more than a “helicopter with internal rotors” by skeptics. Urban Aeronautics founder and CEO Rafi Yoeli argues that the internal rotors are what makes the Air Mule unique and useful. The internal rotors allow the aircraft to travel in between buildings and under power lines without the risk of blade strikes. Yolei proposed this hypothetical situation to Reuters to demonstrate how the Air Mule can perform where traditional aircraft cannot:
“Just imagine a dirty bomb in a city and chemical substance of something else and this vehicle can come in robotically, remotely piloted, come into a street and decontaminate an area.”
Tal Inbar, head of the UAV research center at Israel’s Fisher Institute for Air and Space Strategic Studies claims that such an aircraft could “revolutionize” many aspects of warfare. He stated:
“It could revolutionize several aspects of warfare, including medical evacuation of soldiers on the battlefield.”
Yolei admits that there is still much progress to be made before the Air Mule is ready for mass consumption, but he remains optimistic. Thirty nine patents are currently registered for various parts of the vehicle. This means Yoeli has little to no concern that competitors will beat his 2020 target date. The total price for this vehicle is estimated to be at $14 million upon release.