Is There a Pilotless Flying Taxi in Your Future?

Drones that operate in all weather conditions could be reality sooner than we think.

Tactical Robotics Cormorant
The Cormorant can take off and land in tight spots and operate in high winds.Tactical Robotics

While talk of drones in all shapes and sizes — aircraft capable of tasks like snapping photos from 200 feet above a hazardous situation — has become almost a part of daily life around the world, some companies are already hard at work on the next generation of autonomous vehicle. An Israeli company, Tactical Robotics, has tested a pilotless vehicle capable of carrying large cargoes of both people and equipment along pre-programmed courses in all kinds of weather.

The Cormorant, a name shared by a large seabird, because of its rather unique propeller design, can land and takeoff in tight spots, locations even tighter than those safe for helicopter operations. Unlike a helicopter though, the Cormorant can operate in a variety of weather conditions, even into winds of 40 knots.

At present, the Cormorant is being tested for potential military use, but it's a no-brainer to imagine a similar kind of vehicle scooting around an urban area like an airborne Uber, with a few people aboard. For those flying-Uber cynics, an option on the Cormorant is a ballistic parachute system similar to that on the Cirrus fleet. In a recent story, the Econo-Times said the biggest challenge ahead for the Cormorant and a burgeoning urban market is creating compact vehicles that are aerodynamic and agile.