Israel braces for delivery drone traffic jams
The Israel drone powerhouse is applying the know-how of air force veterans to delivering sushi and ice cream, as companies harness their expertise to avoid collisions in increasingly crowded skies.
On a grassy expanse of Tel Aviv’s waterfront, three drones flew over glowing skyscrapers this week, propellers buzzing as they descended on landing pads.
Two were carrying sushi and a third was carrying cans of beer.
Their flight was made possible by High Lander, an Israeli company specializing in traffic control for autonomous drones, and Cando, who helps develop drone strategies for customers.
“Flying a drone is not a problem,” High Lander chief executive Alon Abelson told AFP.
“We’re talking about multiple drones … from different drone manufacturers, but they’re still monitoring with our software and we can make sure they don’t collide.”
The demonstration was part of a NIS 20 million, or roughly $ 6 million, public-private initiative to advance Israel’s drone technology.
Daniella Partem, who heads the drone initiative at the Israel Innovation Authority, said she envisions “thousands” of drones flying simultaneously in overcrowded cities in the future, ensuring medical deliveries, bolstering police missions and speeding take-out.
“Our goal is to create a competitive market in Israel, not dominated by a single company,” she said.
“If we can get vehicles off the road to the air, we can affect traffic, we can reduce air pollution… we can create a better and safer environment for the delivery of goods.”
– Potential interest –
Drone expert Michael Horowitz, a political scientist at the University of Pennsylvania, said Israel was making “civilian analogs” to its military drones that are getting smaller and can move and strike in coordination.
Israel’s military drone program has come under criticism, particularly from Palestinians in the blockaded Gaza Strip, who say it induces fear and can lead to injury to civilians.
In the commercial drone industry, Horowitz said Israel may offer a new approach to companies that tend to develop their technologies on their own.
“A lot of times you’ll have a company like Google that just oversees its own systems,” Horowitz said.
“If an Israeli company develops a locally effective drone command and control architecture that can include drones from many different companies, I could imagine a lot of people potentially interested in this product. “
Horowitz said advancements in civilian drones could help Israel regain drone market share as its Chinese and Turkish rivals eat away at its military drone exports.
High Lander’s Abelson said he has clients around the world, including Japan, South Korea, France, the United States, Israel and African countries.
Manoel Coelho, CEO of Brazilian drone company Speedbird Aero, told AFP he had used High Lander to “decongest airspace” because he was “one of the first in the world to do so in such a way. also organized “.
– Delivery in minutes –
Other Israeli work with drones remains theoretical.
Hadas Aharoni, 22, a controller for drone company Airwayz, monitored dozens of autonomous drones flying in the northern city of Hadera, although she sat in a control room above the busy highway from Ayalon to Tel Aviv, about 50 kilometers (30 miles) to the south.
“We can see the flight paths where drones take off and land, their heights, their batteries and all kinds of issues that we have to fix to get the drones to arrive the way they should,” Aharoni said.
So far, drones have carried out training missions to set up airstrips in the city.
“When in the future there are more flight programs, we check that this system will be stable,” she said.
Israeli companies take note of the development of the industry.
Ice cream chain Golda opened a pop-up beachfront boutique in Tel Aviv where customers could scan a QR code and order frozen treats via drones.
“In less than 10 minutes you can get your order, which you can’t do with ordinary vehicles,” said Talya Marder, Marketing Manager.
“I think as this spreads and people understand how much value it adds, we’ll be there.”
dac / bs / dv