I saw a couple of announcements in the last week that seem to imply that flying cars (well . . . sort of cars) may finally be filling the sky.
One is the ‘AirMule’ VTOL (Vertical Take Off and Landing) Unmanned Air Vehicle (UAV) from Israeli based Tactical Robotics a subsidiary of Urban Aeronautics. The described the AirMule on their web site as a “compact, unmanned, single-engine, VTOL (Vertical Take Off and
Landing) aircraft. Internal lift rotors enable the AirMule to fly inside obstructed (e.g. mountainous, wooded, urban) terrain where helicopters are unable to operate. The AirMule is innovative due to its internal rotors and significant payload capacity that allows for the evacuation of 2 casualties as well as fast and flexible payload reconfiguration for other missions. It is also ideally suited to special robotic operation, for example via Tele-Presence.”
With a capacity of over 90 cubic feet and just over 1100 lbs, the AirMule has many applications in emergency response as well as the military. The internal lift motors enable the AirMule to fly in obstructed environments, such as mountainous, wooded or urban
settings, that are difficult for helicopters. The AirMule has already gone through some flight testing, so it’s appearance may not be too far in the future.
A similar aircraft shown at CES is the 184 from Chinese company EHang. EHang touts the 184 Autonomous Aerial Vehicle (AAV) as “the safest, Eco-est and Smartest low altitude autonomous aerial vehicle, aiming on providing Medium-Short Distance communication and transportation solution. The 184 AAV is designed with full redundancy – If one set of the power system are operating abnormal, the vehicle can still operate a normal flight plan and ensure the safety of the passenger together with the vehicle.
The 184 was designed to be a 100% with green technology, and is powered by electricity only. Four arms and eight propellers offer great lifting power and safety. Even with one propeller
malfunctions, it can still land in the nearest possible area safely.”
Said to be available later in 2016 for $200,000 to $300,000, this aircraft could provide autonomously piloted travel for a single passenger. The 440 lb craft can fly to over 11,000 ft and has a speed of just over 60 mph. Having a payload of 264 lbs, this would not accommodate everyone. Nor is the 23 minute battery charge going to provide much of a range.