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Friday, January 29, 2010

Israel testing UAV "flying ambulance"

Coolness from the IDF page:
Rescue without human touch: The Air-Mule UAV which assists in medical evacuation has recently passed its initial flight tests. The new UAV, which weighs a ton, will be able to carry equipment and fly into complicated places, such as in urban areas and crevices. In addition to that, the Air-Mule takes off vertically, similar to a helicopter, and its stability will be guaranteed by a unique flight supervision system.

Urban Aeronautics, the company producing the UAV, is one of the world's leading companies in the development of propellers which are installed inside the aircraft instead of outside. The advantage of this location of the propeller is that it allows the aircraft to carry out a wider range of operations in narrow places as well – as opposed to conventional airplanes and helicopters which can only operate in open areas.

"The number one cause of aerial accidents is damage caused to the rotor, and we managed to overcome this obstacle," says the CEO of Urban Aeronautics, Dr. Rafi Yoeli.

During the tests, the Air-Mule succeeded in overcoming difficult weather conditions, and the test team was very satisfied with its flight abilities during a storm that occurred at the test area. The Air-Mule is currently undergoing additional tests further examining its stability and its ability to fly between two previously defined locations.
A manned variant of the actual machine, designed by Israelis, can be seen here:

X-Hawk: Medical Rescue and Evacuation

Medical emergencies arrive without regard to location or time. Unfortunately, emergency medical teams don’t have the same luxury. Both location and time are factors that can hamper their effectiveness and make all the difference between life and death. Medical technology may be miraculous, but it’s not much good unless it can get to you.

Traditional ambulances are subject to the whims of urban traffic patterns. Everyone knows the desperate sound of a wailing siren stuck in a rush-hour bottleneck. Even MEDEVAC helicopters have limitations. We’ve all seen footage of a helicopter, it’s rotor hovering precariously close to a mountainside, struggling to lower a medic to a remote mountain ledge.

X-Hawk, in its air ambulance configuration offers a revolutionary capacity for emergency rescue teams to reach their destination quickly, in spite of practical obstacles or complex landscapes.

What makes X-Hawk so much better?
  • ‘Rotorless’ design eliminates the serious safety hazards associated with helicopter rotors and permits secure access to any location.

  • Arrival time is guaranteed and predictably speedy with effectively zero vulnerability to contingencies such as traffic or other access obstacles.

  • The capability to sustain a safe, stable hover adjacent to a window, wall or slope or to land safely in a congested space allows access and evacuation from virtually any location without the use of ladders or hoists.

  • X-Hawk is significantly quieter than any helicopter, an important consideration with regard to urban environments.
Cool!

UPDATE: Jameel beat me to this story by a few months.