Getting to wounded military personnel right now is a critically dangerous process. First, the helicopter is usually susceptible to enemy fire as it travels to its coordinates, putting the expensive chopper at risk and, more importantly, endangering the pilot’s life. Second, helicopters need a place to land and enemy territory doesn’t always present the pilot with the ideal landing situation. Lastly, helicopters aren’t known for being the quietest mode of transportation.
Now there’s an emergency ambulance drone that could solve all of those problems. AirMule is an unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) that serves as an ambulance drone.
Developed by Israeli company Urban Aeronautics, the firm recently conducted successful test flights for the single-engine drone, which has been in development since 2008. The aircraft is operated by two internal rotors and “allows for the evacuation of 2 casualties as well as fast and flexible payload reconfiguration for other missions”.
It’s a lot quieter than a helicopter. And since the drone is operated remotely, the pilot’s life isn’t at risk.
AirMule’s biggest advantage is its ability to land in tight spaces and not requiring a helipad for take-off or landing, making it suitable for emergency situations, especially in areas of difficult terrain. The drone is also adaptable and can be used in a military or civil setting.
“AirMule’s maneuverability, small visual footprint, low noise and reduced radar and IR signatures offer a stealth advantage that greatly enhances its effectiveness and survivability in these environments,” says Urban Aeronautics on its military functionality while stating the aircraft can be of great use in rescue operations after natural disasters such as floods and earthquakes.
The aircraft cost $2.5 million to build and Urban Aeronautics expects to complete more prototypes before releasing its first model in 2020.
Here’s a look at the AirMule in testing: