World's First Robot Flying Taxi Performs Successful Maiden Voyage
A concept in science fiction may finally arrive in reality. The Air Mule, a flying robot taxi, has just made its maiden flight. A short hop from a parking lot to a space of some distance is proof that it may soon be able to get people out of battlefields and other achievements.
Air Mule maker Urban Aeronautics also announced that Air Mule will have a new name -- Cormorant -- after coastal boards and a fully autonomous flight on a pre-planned route.
According to Popular Science, the maiden voyage, which lasted roughly two minutes, was not perfect. Observers can notice that the car even "wobbled" by the end of the clip. Urban Aeronautics explained this is because the vehicle's flight control system decided to land a bit too early. These decisions are checked by the craft's management system, like how a pilot is being overseen by captains.
These decisions are all from an array of sensors, such as a combination of "two laser altimeters, a radar altimeter, inertial sensors, and electro-optic payload camera." While other unmanned aircraft already use such technology, the Cormorant puts the rotors inside the craft.
The design is ultimately a bit tricky to master, but if Urban Aeronautics gets it right, then we may finally see robot cars that fly inside cities and even in battlefields to save people.
The initial idea for the Cormorant is to make a vehicle that is able to traverse urban centers, dense forest and combat zones where choppers can't. This is due to their vulnerable rotors. The Cormorant aims to be light and able to risk being fired at by the enemy. First envisioned as a sky ambulance, Popular Science says the Cormorant should be able to carry at least a thousand pounds at a top speed of 60MPH, with a maximum range of 430 miles.