All unmanned aerial vehicles have a futuristic feel to them, but if you want something that looks like it came straight out of a science fiction film, you can’t beat a vertical takeoff and landing (VTOL) aircraft.
The AirMule, an unmanned VTOL developed by Israeli company Tactical Robotics, certainly fits that bill, and it recently achieved a milestone by completing several fully automated test flights. According to the company, the flights involved “take-offs, flights to and from a specified location and landing back at its point of origination.” Full mission demonstrations are scheduled for next year.
The AirMule is unique because it has no exposed rotors, which allows it to fly in air space that is inaccessible to traditional helicopters, including mountainous, wooded and urban terrain. Its designers say it is also quite a bit less noisy than a similarly powered helicopter.
During its test flights, AirMule’s height is maintained by two laser altimeters, which will soon be joined by a radar altimeter for dusty conditions. Position is maintained using GPS, INS data and optical reference to markers on the ground.
Tactical Robotics a wholly owned subsidiary of Urban Aeronautics, Ltd. You can see the aircraft in action in the video below:
[ image courtesy of Tactical Robotics ]