Ambulance Drones Might Be Coming to Skies of New York

Imagine the scene. A person collapsed outside. Paramedics have arrived and are helping a doctor assess their patient. Suddenly there is a buzzing noise from the sky, and as they look up, a futuristic, drone-like flying ambulance bursts through the low cloud cover and begins to descend into the streets below.

Science fiction? Not long if a new deal by the Israeli company Urban Aeronautics fulfills its promise. The company has ordered four of its Cormorant CityHawk VTOL (vertical take-off and landing) aircraft from the New York-based nonprofit ambulance, Hatzolah Air. This 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 services – with the space required for a patient and attendant, as well as some rescue workers, pilots and various emergency medical equipment. This is backed up by the fact that the Cormorant CityHawk VTOL has reportedly about 20 to 30% more cabin space than a helicopter.

Urban aviation

“The CityHawk VTOL has two duct fans contained in an airplane the size of a van,” said Nimrod Golan-Yanay, CEO of Urban Aeronautics, to Digital Trends. “The combination of a relatively small external footprint, a high payload, and a large and spacious cabin enables truly safe operation from anywhere in the city, near obstacles and near people, with the peace of mind and safety of one Automobile.”

Piloting the jet fuel vehicle (with a hydrogen-powered version planned for the future) is similar to piloting a helicopter, although Golan-Yanay stated it offered simpler controls and improved stability. “This will lead to agility and speed that will create new opportunities for urban first responders,” he said.

There is still no shortage of regulatory hurdles to be overcome before this deployment of VTOL technology kicks in, both figuratively and literally. But if all goes according to plan, this could be the new face of ambulances in a few years.

Golan-Yanay said these air ambulance messages could serve as proof-of-concept for the continued use of VTOLs in urban environments. “Together with Hatzolah Air as our EMS sales force, we are definitely planning to deploy more EMS CityHawks worldwide,” he said.

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