Hovercraft UAV Takes Test Flight

The AirMule, developed by the Israeli aerospace company Urban Aeronautics, completed its first test flight. It only went two feet, but since it was just a concept two years ago, that's pretty far. In Aviation Week, Graham Warwick writes:

Urban says the tethered hovers, about 2ft off the ground, showed the control system's ability to stabilize the vehicle in all three axes using inertial measurements augmented by GPS and two laser altimeters. The next phase of flight tests will be untethered and will include horizontal and vertical position stabilization.

The AirMule is powered by a 730shp Turbomeca Arriel I turboshaft driving fore and aft ducted rotors. Urban says the initial tests show the vane system used for roll and yaw control will, with planned improvements, allow the production vehicle to hover with high precision in winds gusting up to 50kt.

Israel hopes to use it for medical evacuation in urban areas that helicopters cannot access.

Link via Popular Science | Photo: Urban Aeronautics

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I'm expecting this new Avrocar will be as big a success as the original. These things work pretty well this close to the ground, but get really unstable once the ground effect is lost.
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It's good to see that not all the research comes from military agression. Why can't all nations be peacefully developing flying cuddle delivery platforms , like Israel.
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