We in the aviation press thought we’d been scooped in early February when Flight International magazine published a report on a new duct-fan medical evacuation drone being developed by a world-beating alliance of Elbit, Israeli Aerospace Industries, Urban Aeronautics and … Aerospace Medicine Research Center? That last one was a total mystery, but the first three are some of the hottest firms in the world of Unmanned Aerial Vehicles. Especially Urban, which specializes in these duct-fan designs. Strangely, the alliance’s design featured just one duct fan; Urban’s previous designs all boast two.
I called around. Lo and behold, no one at any of the three established firms had any idea what I was talking about … and AMRC had no listed phone number. Urban, especially, was bothered, considering their stake in duct-fan drones. So Janina Frankel-Yoeli at Urban made some calls of her own — and came back a few hours later with an explanation.
It seems that Aerospace Medicine Research Center is little more than a bunch of doctors with an enthusiasm for high-tech. The group had commissioned some concept art of a robot ambulance that they apparently thought looked cool — the single-fan “design” — and sent it to Flight along with a claim that they had enlisted all those other companies to help build the thing. In fact, none of the firms had agreed to anything of the sort; Urban, for its part, firmly rejected the offer, since the single-fan concept “is not viable,” according to Yoeli.
Yet another reminder that a little fact-checking goes a long way.
P.S. — Urban’s twin-duct design, on the other hand, is totally viable. I’m writing about it for an upcoming issue of Popsci.
(Art from Flight International)