Nov 16, 2016

Cormorant/AirMule UAV completes first autonomous flight

Posted by in categories: robotics/AI, transportation

A lot has happened since we first heard about the AirMule, a prototype VTOL (Vertical Takeoff and Landing) aircraft that features internal rotor blades – these work along with the horizontal-thrust ducted fans visible at the rear. First, it made some tethered autonomous test flights. Then, it flew untethered for a short distance. Now, known as the Cormorant UAV, it’s made its first full untethered autonomous flight … although there were a couple of hiccups.

Designed by Israeli firm Tactical Robotics, the Cormorant is designed to deliver troops, civilian passengers or other cargo within tight quarters where helicopters with exposed rotor blades just can’t go. With the UAV in its name standing for Unmanned Aerial Vehicle, the idea is that it will perform these tasks either autonomously or by remote control.

The latest test took place in Israel on Nov. 3rd, lasting only about two minutes and involving low flight over uneven terrain. While the aircraft did successfully demonstrate autonomous flight modes such as takeoff, climb, acceleration, cruise, deceleration, descent, turns, hover and touchdown, it is hoped that subsequent flights will be able to smooth out the transitions between those modes.

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