Multiple Uses, No Exposed Rotors
It's an automobile.
It's a VTOL aircraft.
Wait a minute (chuckle). You're both right.
Actually, it's the X-Hawk Aerial Vehicle, billed by its Israeli
designers as "rotorless." That's a bit of a misnomer -- the X-Hawk
does have rotors. They're just not exposed.
Jane and George Jetson would love this idea.
"Contained rotors and compact design allow the vehicle to safely
hover and/or land in congested areas without endangering either
itself or the environment," says designer Urban Aeronautics on its
website. The vehicle can even land in a crowd of people without
compromising their safety."
But that's not even the most fascinating bit of the blurb. "The
capability to sustain a stable hover while in direct contact with a
wall or the side of a mountain makes possible comfortable access to
virtually any location," says UA, "be it the window of a high-rise
building in a major city or a remote mountain ridge in the
wilderness. (Urban Aeronautics’ proprietary control system,
US Patent # 6,464,166)."
Urban Aeronautics, based near Ben Gurion Airport in Tel Aviv,
has designed several different variations on its sky car theme. For
instance, there's a medivac variant, cargo and utility
configurations -- there's even one design for high-rise rescue.
"X-Hawk, in its air ambulance configuration offers a
revolutionary capacity for emergency rescue teams to reach their
destination quickly, in spite of practical obstacles or complex
landscapes," according to the company's statement.
Will it work? Former Israel Air Force Commander David Ivry says
yes. NASA agrees.
In its utility configurations, "the vehicle will work," says
Chief Scientist Dennis Bushnell at NASA's Langley facility, in an
interview with the Wall Street Journal two years ago.
But will somebody buy it? Urban Aeronautics founder Raffi Yoeli
says he'll have a flying prototype of the X-Hawk ready for tests
next year. He anticipates FAA certification shortly thereafter.