While small personal drones have become a common sight in the last few years, and with Amazon pushing hard to have packages delivered by drone, it is perhaps more than conceivable that drones carrying human passengers would be next.
But now an Israeli company says that its passenger drone, which completed its first flight over low terrain in November, could be in commercial use in as little as three years.
The Cormorant, billed as a flying car, and formerly known as the ‘Air Mule’ is reportedly capable of travelling at 115 miles per hour and able to carry over one metric tonne of cargo. The final commercial version is expected to retail at around $14 million.
“It paves the way forward for the evolution of Cormorant from prototype to near-term production and ultimately commercialisation of this groundbreaking technology – for broad applications and markets,” said Urban Aeronautics chief executive Rafi Yoeli, explaining that he saw the passenger flying drone as initially being used by the military and search and rescue organisations. “Just imagine a dirty bomb in a city and chemical substance of something else and this vehicle can come in robotically, remotely piloted, come into a street and decontaminate an area.”
While the Cormorant is yet to meet all Federal Aviation Administration standards, Yoeli says it is already safer than conventional helicopters as it can fly in between buildings and below power lines without the risk of blade strikes, as the spinning blades that provide the lift are fully enclosed within the design of the drone.
In June, another passenger drone made by Chinese company Ehang, and called rather simply as “184,” was given approval for test flights in Nevada.