Israel’s Cormorant passenger-carrying drone will be ready for its 2020 launch as testing gets underway.

The Cormorant’s innovator, Urban Aeronautics, thinks the drone could be used to evacuate people from hostile areas or in states of emergency, such as following an earthquake or other natural disaster.

“Just imagine a dirty bomb in a city and chemical substance of something else and this vehicle can come in robotically, remotely piloted, come into a street and decontaminate an area,” Urban Aeronautics founder and CEO Rafi Yoeli told Reuters.

It will be able to carry loads of up to 500kg and will move at a speed of 115km/hr, making it a superfast option too. Although it can already carry such loads, Urban Aeronautics is hoping it will actually be able to carry up to 1,500kg around by the time it launches in three years, massively increasing the drone’s potential as a lifesaving device.

The Cormorant uses internal rotors rather than external propellers to drive forward and complete vertical takeoff and landing processes. Another advantage to the design is that it can fly much lower than alternative aircraft because there’s no risk of rotors bringing down power lines.

“It could revolutionise several aspects of warfare, including medical evacuation of soldiers on the battlefield,” added Tal Inbar, head of the UAV research center at Israel’s Fisher Institute for Air and Space Strategic Studies.

The drone has already undergone some testing, with its maiden automated solo flight over terrain taking place just a few months ago. Although some small issues were flagged, including conflicting data being sent back to the operators by the sensors, the company will now continue to test the drone in various conditions to meet FAA standards.