An autonomous helicopter, which could one day fly into hard-to-reach areas to airlift people to safety, has taken its maiden flight.
The bug-like AirMule (pictured), built by Israel’s Tactical Robotics company, is able to take off and land vertically. This allows it to enter and leave hostile terrain in ways a traditional chopper would be unsuccessful.
It’s designed to pick up a payload of two people (or 1,100lbs) and carry them up to 31 miles away in order to receive medical treatment.
The first untethered test took place in Israel on 30 December. Although it was only 130ft and lasted just 2.5 minutes, it represented a breakthrough following a host of recent set backs.
The single-engine AirMule, which will be tested with cargo on board later this year, is capable of reaching a swift 110 miles an hour. It can soar to 18,000ft and has been built to withstand winds of up to 50 knots.
It’s also half as loud as a conventional helicopter due to its quieter motors. Meanwhile, a compact population system, Wired reports, will enable it to move laterally between buildings without having to roll.
Interestingly, Tactical Robots – the company behind the craft – is a subsidiary of UrbanAero, which also has a flying cars division.
You can see the AirMule’s test flight in the video below