Flying cars may soon move from science fiction to reality, thanks to an Israeli company.
Urban Aeronautics has been developing an unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) capable of carrying passengers for the past 15 years, Reuters reported Tuesday.
The drone, known as the Cormorant, has been referred to as a 'flying car' and a 'flying ambulance.' It is the size of a family car, weighing 1.5 tons, and can carry a load of up to 1,100 pounds.
The Cormorant, formerly called the AirMule, uses internal rotors to fly at speeds of up to 115 miles per hour instead of propellers like a helicopter. Developers from Urban Aeronautics believe that the drone can be used to evacuate people from dangerous or hostile situations or to safely deploy military forces.
Urban Aeronautics founder and CEO Rafi Yoeli told Reuters that the Cormorant could revolutionize warfare. "Just imagine a dirty bomb in a city and chemical substance of something else and this vehicle can come in robotically, remotely piloted, come into a street and decontaminate an area."
Yoeli said that the Cormorant can navigate urban environments more safely than helicopters due its size and its lack of external propellers and blades, which could strike the walls of buildings and power lines, making it easier to evacuate wounded personnel from dense urban areas for medical treatment.
A prototype of the Cormorant underwent its first test flight in November 2016. Urban Aeronautics considered the flight a success, despite several minor glitches. The company is working to ensure that the drone meets the safety standards of the US Federal Aviation Administration, which would allow it to be sold internationally.
Urban Aeronautics hopes to have the Cormorant ready for market by 2020.