Hamas terrorists pose an immediate lethal threat to Israeli civilians and soldiers with their attack tunnels breaching into Israeli territory, but a group of students at the Jerusalem College of Technology (JCT) - Lev Academic Center may have found the solution.
The students have developed a quadcopter - a tiny unmanned flying vehicle with four propellers operated via remote control, allowing the IDF to put eyes in terror tunnels and scope out the dangers, without sending troops to grope through dark tunnels, with terrorists potentially lurking at every turn.
The drone is similar to commercially available models used to film highly popular videos on YouTube, but what's different in the new innovation is the method of steering and the machine's capabilities in locating threats.
The project, which is guided by Dr. Shimon Mizrahi, costs 17,000 shekels (nearly $4,500) and is being supported by the JCT's research fund. It currently is at the advanced stages of development.
"The technological challenge is complicated, because there isn't good radiowave reception in the subterranean tunnels, and also it isn't easy to navigate the drone," explained Dan Ben-Simhon and Yossi Yitzhak, two students taking part in the project.
"In order to navigate an average quadcopter today you need to be a professional, who knows how to cope and prevent unnecessary falls. It's a skill that can't be instilled quickly in every soldier in the field, and therefore the solution we added is software to monitor the flight, and automatically conduct calculations for the weight balance, height and all the rest."
"The idea is for it to be 'idiot proof,' any average person can fly the vehicle even in complicated places," they explained. "The operator just needs to give simple instructions and in this way easily control the vehicle."
None of the currently existing quadcopters specialize in identifying surrounding dangers, but the new innovative device tackles this problem by combining sensors with the vehicle's camera, so as to defend the soldiers before entry into volatile battlefields.
The project all began with a request by the IDF Homefront Command to JCT, asking for the development of a device able to scan areas inaccessible to people. Aside from scouting out terror tunnels, the new technology can enter sewage systems where poisons and gases are accumulating, or buildings in danger of collapse after an earthquake.
"We're fortunate to have a collaboration with the research department of the IDF and the security industries, and likewise of the students around 15% are student-soldiers who served in the security system," explained Prof. Chaim Sukenik, President of the Lev Academic Center.
"The advantage of the IDF - and in many fields also the advantage of the state of Israel in general - is the technological development that allows the conservation of resources and the conservation of human life," said Sukenik.
"The technological advantage is expressed in large projects such as Iron Dome, but also in small and relatively cheap projects that can provide a huge benefit and conservation of human life," he concluded. "We are happy to take part in preparing the next generation of engineers, and in this way to indirectly take part in the defense of the state."