Photo Credit: Hillel Maeir / TPS

Israel’s National Drone Initiative, which first began its flights over urban areas in January 2021, entered a new phase in its pilot program on Sunday with flights over houses and above residents in and around the northern city of Haderaת as part of the NAAMA Initiative (a Hebrew acronym for Urban Aerial Transport).

In this current phase of the pilot project, various Israeli companies will collaborate with state-funded companies operating drones to conduct pilots of commercial goods delivery including cosmetics, food and medicine, directly to the doorsteps of Hadera residents.

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This is the second stage in a series of eight demonstrations expected to take place during the coming two years, in which tens of thousands of sorties will take place in the skies above Hadera.

The initiative, which originated via a collaboration between the Israel Innovation Authority, the Israeli Ministry of Transport, the Israel Civil Aviation Authority (ICAA) and the Smart Transportation Authority, was established to improve the functionality of drones for the benefit of the public, ultimately helping to reduce road congestion.

Likewise, the initiative is working towards creating a national network of air corridors for Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAV) deliveries of medicine, medical examinations and equipment, eCommerce, and more.

Dror Bin, CEO of the Israel Innovation Authority, said that “the National Drone Initiative is reaching new heights, initiating services to customers.”

“The Israel Innovation Authority sees great value in ensuring that Israeli citizens will be able to benefit from local innovation and enjoy advanced services such as receiving goods delivered via drones to their home,” he said.

This pilot project will serve as a catalyst for additional public entities such as the IDF Home Front Command, Magen David Adom and United Hatzalah emergency services and other commercial entities which joined this program.

Over the past 18 months, various activities have been carried out with the aim of building experience, knowhow and familiarity with the regulatory framework necessary to maximize the utilization of rapidly developing technologies while removing barriers and opening up opportunities for participating startups, thus turning Israel into a beta site for conducting such pilot tests.

The first demonstration took place in March 2021 as part of a series of eight demonstrations under the Israel Innovation Authority pilot program in collaboration with the initiative.

Five companies operated about 20 drones in the demonstration, flying over 2,000 sorties in the skies above the city of Hadera, conducted under one unified command and control system.

The airspace was managed by an autonomous Unmanned Aircraft System Traffic Management (UTM) system operated from the Ayalon Highways aerial control center – the command and control center of the demonstration.

The drones flew about 300 sorties a day over open areas, with each drone simulating one of range of a tasks: food deliveries, transport of medicine and medical equipment, as well as agricultural services.

The first demonstration achieved numerous goals, demonstrating proof of concept of managing a unified airspace for a number of companies controlling an autonomous drone fleet and flying in a multi-drone environment – in a coordinated and safe manner while crossing over roads. These achievements demonstrated Israel’s position as one of the most advanced pilot sites in the world in this field.

The second demonstration in this series began on Sunday, with the participation of companies which received the support of the Israel Innovation Authority as part of the Authority’s pilot program managing and operating autonomous drone networks, alongside other companies and entities with drone fleets which were interested in taking part in this first-of-its-kind experiment.

In this second phase of the pilot project, flights are being carried out over residential neighborhoods in the city of Hadera.

In addition, there are demonstrations of end-to-end drone deliveries – from the moment the order is placed via an app, up to and including the delivery of the goods to the end customer.

This is the first time that drone delivery flights will be carried out within urban residential neighborhoods from key takeoff points in the city, in close proximity to businesses, public institutions, etc.

The flights are operated by the six different companies.

They are expected to be joined by the Israeli Police, the National Fire Department and the IDF Home Front Command.

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TPS - The Tazpit News Agency provides news from Israel.