Israeli innovation may soon be saving lives on battlefields around the world, after the successful test flight of an unmanned aerial ambulance.

The AirMule, a drone designed by Tactical Robotics, can airlift two people out of terrain otherwise unsuitable for helicopter landings, and can carry a combined weight of up to 450kg for over 30 miles.

Designers and technicians overcame recent setbacks to celebrate an autonomous vertical take-off at Megiddo Airfield, with beyond-line-of-sight testing to follow.

The AirMule can hover in place with high precision and operate in harsh weather conditions, including winds of up to 50 knots – a significant improvement over existing helicopter capabilities.

“By removing the human operator from the loop on most missions, AirMule can eliminate personnel exposure to operational hazards,” said the company, which is competing against Chinese rivals.

Alongside its most obvious usage in battlefield evacuation, the drone’s internal rotor system lets it fly close to buildings and other obstructions, giving it an advantage over current air ambulances.