Photo Credit: Hillel Maeir / TPS

Israel has launched a first-of-its-kind national drone network that will primarily enable cargo transportation in urban areas through smart and innovative airspace management.

The Israel Innovation Authority, the Israel Ministry of Transport, The Civil Aviation Authority of Israel (CAAI) and The Smart Mobility Initiative at The Israel Prime Minister’s Office unveiled on Wednesday the pilot program to launch the network, while noting the “significant progress” the country has made over the last year in “shaping the future of mobility.”

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During the pilot (no pun intended), a large number of drones operated by several companies will fly over the city of Hadera in northern Israel. The sorties will be managed by one centralized, autonomous Unmanned Aircraft System Traffic Management (UTM) located in the traffic and air traffic control centers of the Ayalon Highway Company in the central Haifa Bay.

The drones flying in the demonstration will perform about 300 sorties a day. Each drone will be simulating the execution of various types of tasks and operations, including food delivery, transporting medicine and medical equipment, and agricultural services.

The flights are being carried out by five different companies. About 20 drones are expected to fly simultaneously, and hundreds of others are scheduled to fly in various demonstrations over a two-week period.

This is the first demonstration in Israel out of a series of eight segments planned to take place over the next two years.

“This is a significant global breakthrough in the ability to manage drone operations at scale, which will lay the foundation for future national drone operations in many areas,” the ministries said in a joint statement.

To support the current phase of the pilot, the participating companies have been granted funds by the Israel Innovation Authority.

Since March 2020, the Israel C4IR Center at the Israel Innovation Authority, in cooperation with the Israel Ministry of Transport and the CAAI, and a number of other entities, have been working to promote the use of drone delivery as a service, as part of the NAAMA Initiative (a Hebrew acronym for Urban Aerial Transport).

The project was established to enable drones to be deployed for public use, ultimately reducing congestion on public roads, transporting medicine and medical equipment and performing medical tasks, delivering various commercial goods more quickly, and enabling Urban Air Mobility (UAM) to function at scale in the future.

During this time, the NAAMA Initiative involved many local, international, public, and private stakeholders to enable technological breakthroughs while removing regulatory barriers and enabling Israel to become a “beta-site” for drone piloting and operations.

Itamar Ben Meir, CEO of Ayalin Highways, explained that “a smart traffic management and air traffic control center that manages and prioritizes a number of drones flying simultaneously in one geographic airspace is a remarkable achievement, setting the stage for the future of mobility applications.”

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TPS - The Tazpit News Agency provides news from Israel.