The national drone project has entered another week of experiments, which are simultaneously taking place in several places around the country. The project is promoted by a number of government bodies led by the Ministry of Transportation, the Innovation Authority, Ayalon Highways, and the Civil Aviation Authority.
The first phase of the national drone project took place between 2019 and 2022 and focused on flying small payloads. The current phase aims to increase the carrying weights and ranges, so that in the future it will be possible to fly heavier loads as well as human passengers. Also, as part of the demonstrations, a "system of roads in the sky" is being paved that will allow a large number of drones and other aircraft to be in the air simultaneously for a variety of uses, including health, retail, security, safety, and others.
The drone project also deals with regulating the airspace and building regulatory infrastructures for flying autonomous tools for the public benefit. Over the past three years, more than 19,000 sorties have been carried out over urban and rural areas. In the coming two years, the companies participating in the project will continue to conduct drone flights for one week each month. The flights will be carried out in managed airspace for long distances of up to 150 kilometers, while carrying heavier loads including humans.
The project has been operating since 2019 and now, as part of the second phase that began in January 2023, more than 60 million shekels are being invested over a two-year span of time, during which there will be test flights of a large number of vessels. The company's drone fleet will also be able to fly people and goods in coming years.
The purpose of the project is to support Israel's ecosystem with the help of the latest technology, regulation, and infrastructure. The government also hopes to ease highway congestion, optimize commercial and public transportation, and create a competitive advantage for Israeli drone firms, allowing them to break into the global market.
As part of the demonstration and test flights held this week, 11 drone companies and supporting firms performed complex experiments in order to promote the ability to operate in Israel.
During the past week, eVTOL hosted a flight simulation, showing off its ability to carry heavy cargo and fly people over long distances in the coming future.
Cando Drones showcased the innovative EH-216 aircraft from EHANG, capable of carrying up to 220 kilograms and flying for a distance of about 30 kilometers. The AIR company flew its AIR ZERO drone, which is manufactured in Israel and is capable of carrying up to two passengers and a total weight of up to 250 kg for a distance of up to 160 kilometers.
The Downwind company performed the longest flight of about 29 km to open a flight path between Hillel Yaffe Hospital in Hadera and Rambam Medical Center in Haifa.
Autonomous urban flights were carried out to examine the transportation of goods from branches of the Yohanoff supermarket.
"The Ministry of Transportation is working to strengthen Israel's position as a global development center for vehicle and transportation technologies. In this framework, we are jointly promoting experiments to examine innovative technologies, such as the National Drone Project. This is the first initiative of its kind worldwide for an extensive and multidisciplinary examination of the new technologies, including transporting cargo and at a later stage - people. We live in an intriguing and challenging world with unlimited possibilities. We will do everything to ensure that Israel continues to be at the forefront of global research and development on land, air, and sea," said Minister of Transportation Miri Regev.