Drones

Cormorant (née AirMule) unmanned VTOL aircraft expands flight envelope

Cormorant (née AirMule) unmann...
Tactical Robotics' Cormorant UAV (formerly known as the AirMule) has spent the Israeli summer being tested
Tactical Robotics' Cormorant UAV (formerly known as the AirMule) has spent the Israeli summer being tested
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Tactical Robotics' Cormorant UAV (formerly known as the AirMule) has spent the Israeli summer being tested
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Tactical Robotics' Cormorant UAV (formerly known as the AirMule) has spent the Israeli summer being tested

After its maiden untethered flight last December, the Cormorant (formerly known as the AirMule) unmanned VTOL aircraft from Israel-based Tactical Robotics' has now spent much of the summer in the air as the company tests its performance in different conditions and with various modifications. With both military and commercial applications ultimately in mind, the company has gradually expanded the flight envelope of the prototype in recent tests.

The AirMule first caught our eye in 2013, when it took to the skies (albeit on a leash) in a series of automated test flights. Tactical Robotics designed the craft for cargo delivery, humanitarian relief efforts and to carry wounded or sick people from the battlefield or other emergency situations. Its small size and Vertical Take-Off and Landing (VTOL) capabilities let it operate in places that regular helicopters just can't reach

With a projected payload size of up to 500 kg (1,102 lb) over distances of 50 km (31 miles), the Cormorant could one day operate as an aerial freighter in the commercial sector, carting goods between ports and distribution centers. From there, smaller delivery drones could make the last mile run of individual orders to customers' doors.

The latest tests indicate the Cormorant is making progress down the path to that future, with autonomous navigation and the Automatic Take-Off and Landing (ATOL) functions now standard procedure on all flights. Tactical Robotics has been testing new systems that improve the UAV's flight control and sensors, and are busy backing up the craft's critical systems with a full redundancy scheme, to keep it flying in case something goes wrong.

Current tests have seen the craft at airspeeds of 55.6 km/h (34.5 mph), but future tests will gently ramp that up towards an expected maximum of 180 km/h (111.8 mph), while sending it out over nearby fields on full pattern flights.

Source: Tactical Robotics

5 comments
Future3000
Wow... looks, sounds, lfies and nearly same specs like "airjeep" or Airgeep from late 1950s... what a progress! https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Piasecki_VZ-8_Airgeep
CharlieSeattle
NUTS Noisy, Unarmored Target and Slow!
Mack McDowell
CharlieSeattle its also a prototype, its unfinished and is a base to build upon.
kwalispecial
Why would you take a VTOL aircraft and name it after a big, heavy seabird that needs a long distance to gain altitude... Maybe they could have thought of a creature that hovers? At least "AirMule" captures the cargo-hauling abilities...
Hummingbird
Future 3000, according to NASA reports the Piasecki airgeep could fly 30kts for 20 minutes (no spare). In order to achieve 30kts it needed to fly at a 30 degree angle. The aerodynamics were so bad and it was so unstable that it was virtually unfliable: https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=4SERvwWALOM Why do you think they scrapped it? It's true that the idea isn't new but it's the first time someone gets it to really work. Definitely progress.