from the June 2008 issue

Flying car could become Israel's robotic ambulance

A group of Israeli technology and defense firm are working on what could become the world's first robotic aircraft for evacuating, and even treating, soldiers injured on the battlefield.

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. 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.

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.

The Fisher Institute's concept is to put together a relatively simple UAV, or unmanned aerial vehicle, at first -- and then follow with something that can also drive around a battlefield, picking up the wounded. The flying car becomes a robotic ambulance.

Reprinted from the Israel High-Tech & Investment Report June 2008

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