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Israeli Company Testing Ambulance Drones

The unpiloted AirMule can fly with up to 800 pounds of cargo

Lily Wilf
February 03, 2014
The AirMule, an unmanned emergency rescue vehicle. (Tactical Robotics)
The AirMule, an unmanned emergency rescue vehicle. (Tactical Robotics)

Israeli startup Urban Aeronautics is testing a flying ambulance drone they hope to release before 2020, Business Insider reports. The vehicle, which is called the AirMule, would be used to perform rescues in places like dense urban environments, where helicopter maneuvering is difficult. The AirMule is directed and controlled remotely and it can fly unpiloted with up to 880 pounds of cargo.

Its primary purpose is to assist with rescues during military operations:

A much quieter, remotely-piloted aircraft like this would be a game changer for military personnel. Medical evacuations for wounded troops have greatly improved since the introduction of the helicopter, but pilots still must be weary of enemy fire. That won’t be the case with a pilot controlling the aircraft far from the danger.

The drone would also be able to deliver aid to isolated populations and rescue civilians in the event of a natural disaster. While the concept sounds futuristic, it might not actually be so long before these ambulance drones start being utilized by the military—according to Popular Mechanics, the AirMule successfully undertook a series of fully automated test flights last month.

Still, the first pilot-less emergency rescue vehicle is going to cost you. Each AirMule is $2.5 million—and their continued production will, naturally, depend on increased demand.

Lily Wilf is an editorial intern at Tablet.