The drone ambulance can ‘land on a dime, anywhere’
AN ISRAELI technology company including two former air force commanders and an ex-fighter pilot has created a remotely controlled drone ambulance that can transport two wounded soldiers.
The AirMule, which is able to carry 450kg up to 31 miles without a pilot, made its first autonomous flight earlier this month, and has been the subject of enquiries from the Israeli and US governments, as well as Nato.
Dr Rafi Yoeli, d i r e c t o r a n d founder of the drone’s creators, Urban Aeronautics, said the 10 year-long project — started after the Second Lebanon War — “could save lives”.
He explained that “after Lebanon and the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, it was evident that helicopters cannot always land close enough to where an extraction of wounded soldiers is needed.
“Because they’re manned, and because it’s dangerous for the crews on board as they can be under fire or unable to negotiate the obstructive terrain, we created a drone the size of a truck that can land on a dime anywhere to bring supplies and rescue capabilities.”
He compared AirMule, which should be ready by the end of the decade, to Israel’sIronDome missile-defence system in terms of putting a fantastical idea into practice, but said that the invention addressed a “universal problem.
“It’s not just Israel or the IDF; the whole world needs this capability, as everyone has the same problem of helicopters not being able to land in the battlefield or get close enough to where they are needed to deliver supplies and take the wounded.”
And although he said he and his colleagues were “of course, pleased” with their work so far, he emphasised that there was still “a long road ahead — and we’re not sitting still”. “Don’t worry, we just have to tweak a couple of lines of code”