Drone big enough to carry people passes another milestone

Drone big enough to carry people passes another milestone
Credit: Urban Aeronautics

(Tech Xplore)—Israeli aeronautics firm Urban Aeronautics has announced to the press that its Cormorant drone, named after the aquatic bird, has successfully passed another milestone—flying itself over uneven terrain. The company reports that the 1,500-kg drone is able to carry a 500kg load a distance of 30 miles while traveling at speeds up to 185 km/h and at altitudes up to 18,000 feet.

The drone, which is approximately the size of a car and formerly called the Air Mule, has been in development for about 15 years and is meant to be used for search and in the aftermath of a disaster or on the battlefield, shuttling cargo or troops in and out of places where planes and helicopters cannot fly. Unlike other aircraft, it is neither a plane nor a helicopter; instead, it has internal rotors and duct fans housed in shields to prevent damage, which allows the craft to take off and land vertically and to dart around in various directions once airborne—reps for the company claim that its unique abilities will soon allow the drone to fly between buildings or under power lines, for example, and into areas that have been contaminated with chemicals or radiation.

The drone can be flown manually via remote control or can fly autonomously, which company reps say allows for making split-second decisions regarding the successful completion of a mission. They believe their drone will eventually become a workhorse of sorts, regularly delivering supplies to places that are difficult to reach by other means, including those at sea. First, though, they must iron out some technical issues revealed during testing involving navigational sensors, and make some modifications to the craft to meet government aviation certification standards.

The company has also been rumored to be developing a smaller version of the that could be used by private citizens as a flying car—but that will not happen until the company begins selling and delivering Cormorants to customers, which the company expects to start doing sometime in 2020—for $14 million apiece.

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More information: www.urbanaero.com/

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Jan 04, 2017
Another version of this;

"The Bell Boeing Quad TiltRotor is a proposed four-rotor derivative of the V-22 Osprey tiltrotor developed jointly by Bell Helicopter and Boeing. The concept is a contender in the U.S. Army's Joint Heavy Lift program." Wikipedia

Jan 04, 2017
In the 1960s we had the XC-142, a four-engined tilt-wing with an additional propeller on the back for stability. I was in it for two runups, but one time it crashed - my night off.

I would not ever get into an Osprey.

Jan 09, 2017
These kinds of fan-contained vehicles are very noisy and use a lot of fuel compared to a helicopter which is of the same performance. Their applications are of a limited military or emergency use where these disadvantages are tolerable. Instead, why not use a centrally positioned centrifugal fan above the vehicle blowing into a parachute canopy, which also spreads the air radially and deflects it downwards? Such a device has most of the advantages of this Cormorant without the high power need.

Jan 15, 2017
The vehicle described by Macrocompassion makes me think of the Avrocar VZ-9 experimental aircraft. It was tested/developed from 1958 through 1961, first in Canada, then in the US. Neither nation could get it to work as a useful aircraft, but it did demonstrate proof-of-concept. If someone has been able to get the bugs out, that would be absolutely wonderful -- in flight, it would look like a "flying saucer"! To the best of my knowledge, to date, its aerodynamic principles are only being used in desktop and floor fans, as well as in hand-held hair dryers (I am deliberately not mentioning any company names).

Jan 15, 2017
I forgot to say that the pictured Cormorant drone under development by the Israeli firm Urban Aeronautics looks like it could be one of the ornithopters in the SciFi Channel mini-series, "Dune", from Frank Herbert's classic science fiction novel and series.

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