Ducted-Fan Vehicle Draws Serious Interest

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For years, ducted fans have been tinkered with as a means to propel vehicles into the air and bring us a step closer to the "flying car" of the old Jetsons cartoons. So far the technology has proved less robust than the vision, but an Israeli company has recently attracted attention from Bell Helicopter for its vertical-takeoff design, which could help rescue people from skyscrapers and carry troops into urban combat zones. Urban Aeronautics' X-Hawk is designed to carry up to a dozen people, take off vertically and fly up to 155 mph for about two hours. Bell hosted a mock-up of the design at its Farnborough Air Show exhibit last summer and has been working with the company to seek government contracts to develop the technology for military use. A smaller, autonomous version of the aircraft could be used for supply missions and emergency evacuations. A prototype could be flying in two or three years and in production within five, company founder Rafi Yoeli told The Associated Press.