It looks a cross between a helicopter and a hovercraft and can take off and land vertically: AirMule is a giant drone that can pick up and drop off supplies or people.
Point of view
It can operate inside villages and cities, land on the sidewalk, or in rough terrain, on a path, in a clearing in a forest
Built by Israeli firm Urban Aeronautics, It is meant to be used in areas too dangerous for other aircraft.
Rafi Yoeli, chief executive officer of Urban Aeronautics, explained how it works: “It can operate inside villages and cities, land on the sidewalk, or in rough terrain, on a path, in a clearing in a forest, and it doesn’t have overhead rotor and tail rotors which are characteristic of helicopters and which cause so many accidents.
“It does all of that automatically, it can fly very low close to terrain, it has various sensors to enable it to do this mission without any supervision.”
The drone is capable of carrying 500 kilograms, can be manned or remotely controlled and carry out a variety of tasks, especially in emergency situations.
Yoeli added: “Imagine a dirty bomb in a city, with a lot of radiation, or chemical material, or something that is evolving inside a city centre with no humans being able to get into that area, and no helicopter being able, especially if its an unmanned helicopter, being able to go into that confined area without hitting something on the way.”
The Airmule could deliver field supplies for an army or fly injured soldiers from a battlefield.
It can reach speeds of 115 mph at an altitude of 18,000 ft or 5,500 metres. But for now it is still undergoing tests to prove it does not pose a threat to other aircraft or people living under its flight path.
The firm hopes the AirMule will be in the field within the next two years.