An autonomous aircraft the size of a car could revolutionise aviation by flying in areas currently inaccessible to aircraft, according to its Israeli developers. Stuart McDill reports.
A prototype pilotless aircraft that could herald a new era of aviation - according to its developers No small claim - but after more than a decade in development - Israel's Urban Aeronautics says the Cormorant is a game changer SOUNDBITE (English) JANINA FRANKEL-YOELI, VICE PRESIDENT MARKETING AT URBAN AERONAUTICS, SAYING: "I think it's a revolution in the field of aviation because it's a new class of aircraft, it's like you had fixed wing aircraft and you could fly long distances forward, you developed helicopters and you suddenly could move vertically and up until now there's a whole area of airspace that even helicopters couldn't go because of this enormous rotor and the hazards of it and suddenly you have a family of aircraft based on this technology that can fly in places that nothing has ever been able to fly." The vertical take-off UAV is a third of the size of a traditional helicopter - but carries a similar payload its internal rotors eliminating the risk of blade strike - allowing the Cormorant to fly in between buildings and below power lines SOUNDBITE (English) RAFI YOELI, FOUNDER AND CEO OF URBAN AERONAUTICS, SAYING: "It's the size of a car, it takes off vertically and it can deliver packages, for example, of 500 kilos and more for a distance of 50 or 70 kilometers back and forth which again is unprecedented, there is no vehicle out there that can take off vertically that has a footprint that's just 3 and half meters across." Urban Aerodynamics say in future it could become part of the workforce. SOUNDBITE (English) RAFI YOELI, FOUNDER AND CEO OF URBAN AERONAUTICS, SAYING: "Just imagine a dirty bomb in a city and a chemical substance or something else and this vehicle can come in robotically, remotely piloted, come in to the street and decontaminate an area. We've been approached by operators of nuclear plants, can this aircraft go into a nuclear plant and actually make repairs and fix a leak and do some work and not just take a picture of what's happening inside, so this is a workhorse. This is a vehicle that is designed to go places and work and do work and therefore, the compact dimensions, the internal rotors and the very, very large payload capability are the fundamentals for the Cormorant design." The vehicle is yet to meet all Federal Aviation Administration standards But its makers hope to sell it to militaries from 2020 for $14 million each.