Israeli Autonomous Drone Gets Wounded Soldiers Out of Danger

In recent testing, the Tactical Robotics Cormorant showcased what it could do to its lead customer -- the Israel Defense Forces.
Shelby Rogers

A new style of the drone could offer life-saving technologies onto battlefields and emergency disaster situations. Israel-based robotics company Tactical Robotics just tested a "mission representative" demonstration for its lead customer, the Israel Defense Forces. 

The demonstration for the IDF took place at the Megiddo Airfield in the Galilee, according to Tactical Robotics. The Cormorant drone showed off exactly what it was built to do. It took a load of cargo through a pre-planned flight path. It then delivered that cargo load to a ground team. That team then loaded on a medical training manikin to simulate a casualty (rather than a wounded or injured patient). 

Other than the unloading of cargo and loading one of the training manikin, the entire simulated mission was performed autonomously. 

The Cormorant boosts the potential of drone deployment for a wide range of military, civilian, and even industrial applications. 

The Cormorant has certainly caught the attention of drone fans around the world for its very distinctive appearance and functionality. Unlike helicopter with exposed rotors, the Cormorant houses its six-foot rotors inside housings underneath the aircraft. Tactical Robotics dubbed these "internal lift rotors."

The engine of the craft gives the Cormorant the ability to lift over 1,000 pounds of cargo -- or two wounded people -- in a mission range of 30 miles at over 100 mph. In theory, it would be enough time and space to let military units drop off supplies to front-line soldiers and bring back the wounded. 

This payload weight also doesn't account for human pilots or others who might need to be on board to operate -- because the Cormorant doesn't need any. Patients who use the Cormorant to be transported to safety would be linked to a remote monitoring system. This would give ground medical teams the ability to see vital signs and talk to patients over two-way monitoring. 

"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," the company explained in a statement. "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."

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Other Self-Flying Drones Coming Soon

The Cormorant is one of the most functional autonomous drones we've seen, particularly for tactical purposes. However, it's far from the only one in production, and there are several other companies looking to give a more civilian approach to flying autonomous vehicles.


In January, AirSpaceX debuted its autonomous vertical take-off and landing (VTOL) aircraft called MOBi ONE at the North American International Auto Show. The company said it wanted to save the United States the roughly $300 billion lost each year on excessive fuel and productivity costs due to traffic jams and road delays. 

There's also the Vahana -- an autonomous air taxi set to hit cities as early as 2020. The tilt-wing multi-propeller craft was the result of Airbus and its California-based advanced projects outpost called A3. 

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