An Australian company AMSL Aero and CareFlight have launched the partnership with the goal of developing aeromedical applications for advanced electric flying vehicles. In announcing the innovative project, AMSL Aero officially presented the Vertiia – an energy-efficient, electric air ambulance – to the world for the first time. The innovative aircraft should tackle rural and regional healthcare inequality and save more lives.
Vertiia is an electric vertical take-off and landing (eVTOL) aircraft, cruising at a speed of 300 km/h (186 mph) and traveling up to 250 km (155 miles) in a battery-powered version or 800 km (500 miles) on a hydrogen powertrain. The electric air ambulance is designed to the highest levels of safety and is significantly quieter than combustion engine aircraft like helicopters.
This flying ambulance is equipped with eight large propellers mounted on two wide carbon fiber poles extending from the upper tail and lower front of a slim, pod-shaped cabin. Thanks to these props, the device has the ability to tilt from pointing vertically upward for take-off, hover and landing, to fully horizontal in cruise flight. Initially piloted and carrying four passengers, Vertiia has built-in autonomy for future remote piloted applications.
The partnership with CareFlight for an electric aero ambulance could see CareFlight deploy electric flying air ambulances within a few years, which will initially be flown by CareFlight pilots. CareFlight is also providing expert advice and input into the aircraft design to ensure it is fit for medical purposes.
“Vertiia will instantly enable greater access to medical services for vulnerable remote, rural, and regional communities, offering new models of care through rapid and low-cost connectivity,” said Andrew Moore, co-founder, and CEO of ASML Aero.
“Unlike aeromedical planes that require a runway, Vertiia will carry patients directly from any location straight to the hospital, significantly reducing the complexity and time transporting vulnerable patients. It will also be quieter and safer than helicopters, and will eventually cost as little as a car to maintain and run, transforming aeromedical transport into a far more affordable, accessible, safer, and reliable option.”
By seeking out the airspace, VTOL aircraft can reach (on paper) any destination in a straight line, without the risk of getting stuck in traffic. Moore, therefore, expects the Vertiia to be used for a multitude of applications in the future. For example, it can be used as a rescue aircraft in forest fires.
Vertiia is currently being developed in conjunction with the University of Sydney and autonomy and sensor specialists Mission Systems. According to AMSL Aero, the air ambulance could be operational for medical transport from 2023.