Urban Aeronautics are based in Yavne, Israel, they were setup back in 2001 for the sole purpose of creating a flying car. And they’ve achieved that. Nearly.
It has taken 15 years of development, but the 3,307 lb passenger carrying drone has taken its maiden flight over terrain in November 2016.
There were a few minor issues with conflicting data coming from the internal sensors, but on the whole, the flight was a success.
CEO, Rafi Yoeli is adamant that ‘The Cormorant’ will bring about a step change in many areas; “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 the area”.
The only resemblance to a car is the rough size and weight, aside from that, it’s very different. The company has filed 39 patents so far and the propulsion system is all-new; it uses internal rotors rather than a helicopter style blade, this means that it should be safer and easier to get into places where a normal helicopter couldn’t, due to the risk of damaging the blades.
Yoeli says that it will lift around 500 kg (approx. 1,100 lbs) and can travel at up to 115 MPH. It hasn’t yet reached the standard for the Federal Aviation Administration certification, but Yoeli is confident that isn’t an issue.
Urban Aeronautics expect to see the Cormorant (once called the ‘Air Mule’) in full production and ready for sale in 2020, certainly not before that. With 15 years of development and costs to recoup, its surely not going to be cheap; no official pricing structure exists as of yet for the drone, but Yoeli reckons that the total cost of the project so far is in the region of $14,000,000 – that’s some figure to recoup.
The uses (once proven) could be many; Yoeli already sees the drone being used in such scenarios as decontamination, but passenger transport, military transport, even transporting goods are all real possibilities on the cards.
Of course, Yoeli plays down the military aspect as you’d expect, but the possibility is very real.
As the drone flies more test miles, they’re going to iron out the bugs in the system, for their first flight, there were remarkably few issues, Urban Aeronautics are confident that they really were just minor sensor problems.
What do you think of The Cormorant? Is it something you’d fly in?