Aircraft

Is this the flying car you've been waiting for?

The CityHawk may be the taxi of the future
The CityHawk may be the taxi of the future
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The CityHawk will be capable of carrying four passengers, and will initially be flown by a human pilot
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The CityHawk will be capable of carrying four passengers, and will initially be flown by a human pilot
The CityHawk may be the taxi of the future
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The CityHawk may be the taxi of the future
The CityHawk will incorporate "a high degree of autonomy," with plans calling for it to conduct fully robotic flights once the necessary infrastructure is in place
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The CityHawk will incorporate "a high degree of autonomy," with plans calling for it to conduct fully robotic flights once the necessary infrastructure is in place

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.

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 incorporate "a high degree of autonomy," with plans calling for it to conduct fully robotic flights once the necessary infrastructure is in place
The CityHawk will incorporate "a high degree of autonomy," with plans calling for it to conduct fully robotic flights once the necessary infrastructure is in place

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.

The CityHawk will be capable of carrying four passengers, and will initially be flown by a human pilot
The CityHawk will be capable of carrying four passengers, and will initially be flown by a human pilot

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

Cormorant UAV Flight Test, March 2017 (including autonomous landing on a marker)

22 comments
ALGR
I'd split for 4 overlap propellers like Army hoverbike instead of external fans, but maybe there's already a patent.. www.gravitisports.com
LarryWolf
Someday will have 8' wide by 18' long craft powered by supercapacitors with 2000 mile ranges and no one will fly commercially again. They will be cheap made from light weight carbon fiber and plastics and of course in house fans so that they don't decapitate someone on the ground when landing on them! Supercapacitors made with contact plastic have been shown to have potentially 50 times the energy density of LiON so it is possible someday. Good riddance no fossil fuels in transport someday.
AnthonyGonzales
So how well flying is City Hawk in high winds and other adverse atmospheric conditions? as well as other similar "flying car" vehicles that are currently being proposed by numerous others?
KaiserPingo
Well the blades might not be harmee, but you still cannot have a take-off or landing, without sandblasting the neighbors car and smashing his windows. Not to mention landing in a parkinglot... Like this, its only fun/useful for a select few.
Daishi
I appreciate people's efforts to try to tackle this but I don't see flying cars happening. In major urban environments even just owning/operating a car is something that fewer people want to do. Would you trust 2 million of these piloted by amateurs navigating the streets of manhattan? Nope, flying cars in urban spaces run by ameature pilots would be close to anarchy. Cars are too expensive for a lot of people to own, planes aren't cheaper and experimental craft even less so. People in rural areas with enough room to land a helicopter can already buy cheap ultralights (like Butterfly Super Sky Cycle) but nobody does or uses them. If even the $30k Super Sky Cycle didn't see major adoption why would flying cars? I think a more realistic problem to solve would be maybe small professionally operated micro-airports which would essentially be flying mass transit meant for within major metro areas. There would be fewer well defined routes that would be easier to handle for air traffic control. Just like a bus or subway it would have one way traffic paths so craft could travel out and back one after the other like a faster ski lift without the cables. We are really really bad at designing mass transportation systems. We need to design them more like network communications for higher throughputs and more people would use them. The average travel speed of a bus in NYC is 9.5 MPH not counting the time you spend waiting for it. An actual chairlift would deliver those speeds with less wait. Running things like subways on 2 tracks rather than 2 would allow a 10x throughput instead of 2x because because multiple cars could be run in "full duplex". We are really really bad at public transportation.
NatalieEGH
I cannot see these being used for personal transportation except possibly by the ultra wealthy. I can see these being used for emergency services, as they could have the transportation characteristics of both a ground based ambulance and a helicopter. This would allow landing almost next to a patient and taking the most direct route to the appropriate hospital avoiding all traffic. Depending upon the speed they could even transport patients to hospitals though out a region if the hospitals are somewhat specialized for patient type. I could see the vehicles being used by the police. Depending on maneuverability and flight characteristics it could be used within urban setting where use of police helicopters would be ill advised. I could see the vehicle being used in certain commercial operations especially where extra security during the transport of good is desired, such as armored trucks. It would eliminate the possibility of the transport vehicle being hijacked. Robbing would also be sinceless as the only way to do so would be to shoot the vehicle down, quite probably causing it to crash and destroy the contents. @Daishi, while I do not believe flying cars for personal transport will ever be other than a rich person's toy, the fact the Super Sky Cycle did not catch on is no proof. The Super Sky Cycle is an unenclosed autogyro. At the very best a person using one for transport to and from the office would have to fly in everyday type clothes and shower, shampoo, and get dressed at work. Executives also tend to be very picky about their attire, so I doubt they would be carrying there suit, tie, dress shirt, blouse, ... in a backpack. Rain is also a problem. As to most people in rural areas, outside of house, food, and clothing, if it does not help make money, it is not something you purchase.
Mzungu_Mkubwa
@NatalieEGH, I'd say if a flying "armored truck" carrying anything valuable flies over, there'll be criminals at the ready with their home-grown shoulder-mounted SAMs, sporting fire extinguishers to jump in to score the big heist! (Would actually make a great sequel to "The Italian Job" (or similar), right?)
wle
it's REALLY hard to beat plain old wheels for efficiency.... flying is about 1 orders of magnitude more energy... hovering uses about 200 horsepower just to sit there doing nothing.. a wheel of course uses zero for that many other reasons flying cars and jetpacks and 'bikes' will never be a mass thing wle
Paulinator
Rehashed 60's technology that cannot compete against the new wave of scaled quad/octi-copters.
John Sorensen
These drawings look like something straight out of a 1950's Popular Science magazine. Flying cars will NEVER be practical as long as the "driver" needs a pilot's license to operate it.