For the past several years, Israeli aerospace firm Urban Aeronautics has been developing a VTOL (Vertical Takeoff and Landing) aircraft that was first known as the AirMule, and is now called the Cormorant. Although the vehicle is aimed mainly at military applications, the company has previously mentioned that its Metro Skyways subsidiary is exploring the possibility of a civilian aircraft based on the technology. Today, the first images and details of that aircraft were released.

The vehicle is known as the CityHawk, a play on Kitty Hawk, North Carolina, where the Wright brothers made their first flights.

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It's described as being similar in size and shape to the Cormorant, which is the product of another Urban Aeronautics subsidiary, Tactical Robotics. It will utilize that aircraft's patented Fancraft technology – this means that its rotor blades will be internal, as opposed to sitting up top and exposed, like those of a helicopter. This feature will allow it to land and take off in close quarters, without risking damage to those blades.

The CityHawk will be capable of carrying four passengers, and will initially be flown by a human pilot. It will incorporate "a high degree of autonomy," however, with plans calling for it to conduct fully robotic flights once the necessary infrastructure is in place – the Cormorant already flies autonomously.

Unlike the battery-electric Ehang 184 passenger drone, the CityHawk will at first be powered by jet fuel. That said, it will be possible to convert it to run on liquid hydrogen fuel and also 700-bar compressed hydrogen … again, this depends on waiting for the infrastructure and technology to mature. It may even employ a system in which hydrogen is fed directly into a specially-designed turboshaft engine, eliminating the need for fuel cells or electric motors.

Whatever power source it ends up using, should the CityHawk conk out while in flight, a rocket-deployed parachute will bring it "safely down to the ground."

Don't go looking for one in the skies overhead just yet, though. According to Urban Aeronautics, development of the aircraft is expected to take at least five years. In the meantime, you'll have to settle for the following video of one of the Cormorant's latest test flights.

Source: Urban Aeronautics

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