Watch: Israeli Autonomous Drone Evacuates Wounded, Delivers Cargo In IDF Demonstration

Tactical Robotics (a subsidiary of Urban Aeronautics Ltd.), based in Yavne, Israel, recently debuted its autonomous drone named Cormorant, a single-engine Vertical Take Off and Landing (VTOL) aircraft with internal lift rotors enabling it to land and take off almost anywhere. The drone’s radical new design offers life-saving technologies onto the modern battlefield and emergency disaster situations.

Tactical Robotics (a subsidiary of Urban Aeronautics Ltd) has taken the lead in the development of the Cormorant. (Source: Tactical Robotics)

Earlier this month, the Israel-based robotics company successfully completed its first “mission representative” demonstration for its primary customer, the Israel Defence Forces (IDF). The demonstration was conducted at Megiddo Airfield in the Galilee, according to the Tactical Robotics press release. The Cormorant drone performed a series of pre-planned flights to a specified point of delivery, offloading specialized cargo, and loading of a manikin that simulated a wounded soldier on the battlefield, which was then returned to the point of origin.

“The demonstration, a combination of cargo delivery and casualty evacuation, reflects Cormorant’s unique dual-role capability as the only UAS recognized by NATO to fulfill both cargo delivery and CasEvac missions. As such, the aircraft is designed to exceed the standard reliability and handling qualities required of a typical, tactical UAS in order to meet the requirements to safely ferry human “cargo” back from the battlefield,” Tactical Robotics said.

Cormorant IDF Mission Demo May 2018

Cormorant’s rotor arrangement minimizes its footprint. Internal lift rotors embedded underneath the aircraft within the airframe — allows it access to obstructed areas with wires, buildings, forests, jungles, and even challenging terrain, where helicopters could never attempt a touchdown.

The aircraft’s single turbocharged engine powers the two lift rotors and two smaller rotors mounted vertically on either side of the drone’s tail.

According to Tactical Robotics’s website, the engine gives the Cormorant the ability to lift over 1,000 pounds of cargo — or about two wounded soldiers.

Cormorant CasEvac Loading at IDF demo. (Source: Tactical Robotics’s YouTube) 

The mission range of the drone is about 30 miles at over 100 mph. The drone’s design followed the most stringent FAA design requirements for rotorcrafts, which could boost its chances for broad adoption in military, civilian, and even industrial applications.

The Cormorant for casualty evacuation and cargo demonstration for the IDF

In 2017, Cormorant completed its first flight over low terrain, and, in 2018, the aircraft was recently tested for military applications by the IDF. The company expects the drone to be in full operational use by 2020, which could complement IDF soldiers in a war with Syria and or Iran.