Picture the scene. A person has collapsed outside. Paramedics have arrived and they’re helping a doctor assess their patient. Suddenly there’s a buzzing sound from the sky and, as they look upward, a futuristic, drone-like flying ambulance bursts through the low cloud cover and begins to descend to the streets below.
Science fiction? Not for long if a new deal struck by the Israeli company Urban Aeronautics lives up its promise. The firm has had four of its Cormorant CityHawk VTOL (vertical takeoff and landing) flying vehicles ordered by the New York-based air ambulance nonprofit Hatzolah Air. That makes Hatzolah Air the first paying customer of Urban Aeronautics.
The two organizations will now work together to prepare the vehicles for use by emergency medical services — with the necessary space for a patient and companion, plus a couple of EMS professionals, pilot, and assorted emergency medical equipment. This is helped by the fact that the Cormorant CityHawk VTOL reportedly has around 20 to 30% more cabin space than a helicopter.
“The CityHawk VTOL has two ducted fans, contained within an aircraft the size of a van,” Nimrod Golan-Yanay, CEO of Urban Aeronautics, told Digital Trends. “The combination of a relatively small external footprint, high payload, and a large and spacy cabin allows it to truly operate safely from anywhere within the city, near obstacles, and in the vicinity of people, with the peace of mind and safety of a car.”
Piloting of the jet fuel-powered vehicle (with a hydrogen-fueled version planned for the future) is similar to piloting a helicopter, although Golan-Yanay said it boasts simpler controls and enhanced stability. “This will result in agility and quickness that creates new opportunities for urban first responders,” he said.
There are still no shortage of regulatory hurdles to cross before this use of the VTOL technology takes off, both figuratively and literally. But if all goes according to plan, these could be the new face of ambulances just a few years from now.
Golan-Yanay said that this air ambulance news could serve as a proof-of-concept for the further use of VTOLs in urban environments. “Together with Hatzolah Air as our EMS sales representatives, we definitely plan to deploy more EMS CityHawks worldwide,” he noted.