Israel begins first flight tests in 2-year pilot programme to validate safe integration in urban environments

In a bid to realise the future of autonomous airborne delivery, flight system and Unmanned Traffic Management (UTM) specialist Airways is taking part in a two-year pilot program that will see drone delivery tested above and beyond any other scheme of its kind. In a world-first, drone fleets from multiple delivery companies are operating in Hadera, just north of Tel Aviv, to validate the safe and efficient integration of drone deliveries in urban environments, according to a report by sUAS News.

The pilot program, organised by the Israeli Innovation Authority in collaboration with the Ministry of Transport and the Prime Minister’s Office, began in March 2020, but sees drone flight tests starting for the first time this month. Five separate delivery companies are using their own differing USS (UAS Service System) in the pilot, all of which are managed by Airwayz UTM, which is able to manage fully autonomous operation across multiple drones with the use of AI (Artificial Intelligence) technology. This allows the drones to operate in a mesh network rather than along a corridor.

Airwayz’ flight system and UTM platforms feature AI functions such as advanced mission planning, remote control and multiple autonomous flight modes, which are integrated with a cloud-based network and decentralized swarm technology. The proprietary technology allows Airwayz to share flight information and enable operational coordination for fleets of drones performing various missions so that wide-ranging scenarios can be tested in the pilot.

Dr. Ami Appelbaum, Chairman of the Israel Innovation Authority and Chief Scientist at the Israeli Ministry of Economy and Industry, said: “Operating drones in a managed urban airspace is one of the most significant challenges prior to establishing regulation and integration of autonomous drones in Israel’s airspace. Implementation of this pilot program, while demonstrating the operation of various drones by a number of different operators in the same airspace, marks the beginning of a new age in Israel’s smart transportation. From delivery of medicines, tests, and medical equipment, on to agricultural spraying and postal services, or food delivery to the customer’s home, this constitutes a revolution in transportation as we know it. Together with our different partners, the acceleration of the ecosystem will allow Israel to lead the new age on a global level.”

Eyal Zor, CEO and Co-Founder of Airwayz said: “This pilot scheme will demonstrate how multiple fleets of drones can operate, reacting safely to real-time situations, whilst also maximising delivery efficiency for a commercially-viable solution to drone delivery.

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