Special Delivery: This AirMule Drone Can Carry 1,100 Pounds
No matter the scenario—every day, large and important things need to be delivered somewhere else, and usually on the double. In the future, drone couriers look to be the answer for handling the delivery of small stuff, spearheaded by Amazon Prime Air. But for the larger items, it’ll take a bit more heavy lifting muscle. Enter the AirMule. Designed by Israel’s Urban Aeronautics, the AirMule is an unmanned, vertical take-off, single engine aircraft capable of transporting 1,100 pounds of cargo a distance of just over 30 miles—all while operating autonomously. On December 30th, the AirMule drone completed its first successful autonomous and untethered flight at an airfield in northern Israel, and now the company has set up a full-time testing facility onsite to keep pushing development of the craft. RELATED: Check Out these 5 New, Game-Changing Drones of 2016
Its main purpose—as hinted by its stealthy radar-abating exterior—is to provide prompt evacuation and resupply support in a military role. However, its flexible payload options and a recent “category II” certification from the Missile Technology Control Regime mean it could eventually be marketed for private sale, perhaps to first responders, delivery services, or for agricultural spraying.
Beneath its exterior lies a single turboshaft engine, which powers two main rotors. The pair are said to minimize outward heat signatures as compared to their helicopter siblings, yet the AirMule can still notch flight speeds in excess of 110 miles per hour. All told, the company’s “Cormorant” version weighs in at around 2,000 pounds, and takes up about as much space as a Humvee.
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The craft was damaged earlier in 2015, which led to the addition of “significant upgrades” and new safety features. Now, the plan is to keep improving its capabilities.
As pointed out by Wired, Israel is one of three countries (including the United States and the United Kingdom) with development centers for Amazon Prime Air. Should the internet giant need to source a carrier for its larger items…they won’t have to look far.
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