May 20, 2008

The Israeli Flying Car

Wired reports:
A group of Israeli technology and defense firms are working on what could become the world's first robotic aircraft for evacuating, and even treating, soldiers injured on the battlefield. Let's just hope the technology is a little slicker than the concept art (right).

Israel's Fisher Institute for Air and Space Strategic Studies is working with local techies and arms-makers to build "MedUAV," a combination of ducted-fan flying drone and robotic ambulance. According to Defense News' Barbara Opall-Rome, the Institute is hoping -- hoping -- to start test flights in 24 months. Eventually, the idea is to carry up to four passengers at speeds of 150 knots and heights of up to 10,000 feet.

(If the whole thing looks retro-futuro familiar, that's because Urban Aeronautics, makers of this concept drone, is one of the companies behind the robo-medevac.)

Six of the 119 soldiers killed in Israel's 33-day war with Hezbollah might have survived, if the Israeli Defense Forces "had been able to evacuate casualties within the so-called 'golden hour,' when their chances for recovery were relatively high. But because the IDF could not thoroughly cleanse urban areas of hidden terrorists and concealed rocket-launching squads, the Israel Air Force often could not dispatch medical evacuation helicopters upon demand," Defense News notes.

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