Drones with boxes fly above warehouse
Drones with boxes fly above warehouseiStock

The fourth phase of Israel’s National Drone Initiative pilot program launched on Sunday.

The program involves five companies that manage and operate autonomous drone networks awarded by the Israel Innovation Authority's grant via its Pilots Program. It also includes other companies and organizations with a drone fleet who are interested in taking part in the world’s leading civilian drone delivery pilot project, which began its flights over urban areas in January 2021.

Beginning Sunday, and lasting for two weeks, flights will take place day and night above Gush Dan and Yeruham, in order to integrate the use of drones into routine activities such as transportation of basic products and first aid. Drones will also be deployed attached to a vehicle for real-time monitoring of traffic movement with AI-based elements that can provide forecasts, and much more.

“In the framework of the fourth phase of this pilot program, the drone initiative is taking one step forward with additional missions and challenges, and expanding the operational envelope and the potential civilian uses of drone technology,” Dror Bin, CEO, Israel Innovation Authority. “This is another significant milestone, in which all of the partners in both public and private sectors are establishing an innovative model for drone manufacturers and operators, as well as the Israeli public.

Bin added: “This kind of cooperation is a catalyst for additional entities, such as rescue services and local authorities, as well as other commercial entities, to undertake and to experience the capabilities and potential that is latent within and demonstrated by this trial.”

Eyal Bilia, Ayalon Highways Acting Vice President of Technology and Innovation, explained that the National Drone Initiative is part of a project to solve traffic congestion on Israel’s roads.

“Research has found that 20 percent of the congestion problems in city centers stem from the movement of small goods. Therefore, the deployment of drones can assist in two ways – through monitoring and analysis and the operational aspect of creating new transportation lanes that will ease the existing congestion while building regulation that will support their ongoing operation in general areas of urban transportation.”

The initiative was “was established with the goal of advancing the deployment of drones for the public benefit, in order to assist in reducing congestion on the roads and to establish a national network of airways that are managed for the purposes of transporting medicines, vaccines, tests and medical equipment, retail market shipments, and more,” explained Joel Feldschuh, Director of the Civil Aviation Authority.

Companies participating in the trial are High-Lander Aviation Ltd, Flightops/Simplex Interactive, lyTech Company (F.T. Aerial Solutions Ltd), Airwayz Drones Ltd, Skylinx Technologies Ltd, Blue White Robotic (BWR) and Wonder Robotics Ltd.

Feldschuh added that Israel is the most advanced country in the world when it comes to “practically examining the anticipated architecture of control in unmanned airspace (U-Space).”

“The Civil Aviation Authority is an active partner in the National Drone Initiative and through risk management process enables looking into future models of operating commercial drones backed by relevant regulations,” Feldschuh said. “The fourth phase of this pilot takes another step in examining future control architecture in the domain of urban deliveries via drones.”