One look, and you just know this is the ve­hi­cle that will make traf­fic jams go away. Un­for­tu­nately, its not for civil­ian use, yet.

Aptly re­named Cor­morant passes au­ton­o­mous flight tests

The Witness - Wheels - - FRONT PAGE -

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 over dis­tances of 50 km, the Cor­morant could one day op­er­ate as an aerial freighter in the com­mer­cial sec­tor, cart­ing goods be­tween ports and dis­tri­bu­tion cen­tres.

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, but fu­ture tests will gen­tly ramp that up to­wards an ex­pected max­i­mum of 180 km/h, while send­ing it out over nearby fields on full pat­tern flights.

Is­rael’s Tactical Robotics tested its gi­ant, auto-pi­lot­ing drone Cor­morant as an air freighter last week.

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