AN AIR MULE BY ANY OTHER NAME
Nine years ago, the Air Mule was an almost-believable concept: a flying robot taxi that could get people out of dangerous battlefields without endangering a pilot or crew. It was the exact sort of gizmo one expects from Popular Science: an amazing machine of the future, almost like a flying car, that seemed plausible but just out of reach.
Not anymore. In January of this year, the Air Mule took its first flight: a short, wobbly hop from the side of a parking lot to a space a modest distance away. On Tuesday, Air Mule makers Urban Aeronautics announced two major feats for the Air Mule program. The first is a new name: Cormorant, after the family of coastal birds. The second is a full, autonomous flight on a preplanned route: