Israel Plans Massive Drone Delivery Test; Over 20 Drones From Five Different Firms To Fly Over A Single Urban Airspace

Stepping up its drone delivery system, Israel is set to undertake a large-scale test in which 20 drones from five different companies will fly over a single urban airspace, Israeli publication Haaretz reported.

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Israel has given a lot of emphasis on its drone delivery system since the outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic and is now taking it to a higher level.

The test-run will be conducted in March over Hadera in central Israel, near the coast between Tel Aviv and Haifa. The main objective of this exercise is to understand and help develop an ecosystem where many drones could be used for the delivery of packages or parcels commercially without interfering in the operations of each other.

The technological and regulatory infrastructure would enable a large number of drones to fly over a small urban area in a synchronized manner to prevent accidents.

According to the report, the trials could pave way for the future operation of commercial drones in Israel. These drones would be used to deliver packages, mails, medicine and medical equipment, food, among other essential goods.

Since the Covid-19 lockdowns started, a number of drone operations have been carried out aiding in the delivery of medicines and test kits to many areas, with the total number of sorties soaring over 700. This would be expanded to urban areas with low-rise buildings from June this year.

The first stage will see the drones from different companies flying only in a digitally specified region and would be expanded later to single, shared airspace. Each company shall carry out about 60 flights per day, or 300 in total and thousands every two weeks, according to the report.

The companies will have to coordinate and share information about the drones among themselves, or over a centralized command much like the aviation sector in order to prevent accidents.

The test is being launched by the Israel Urban Air Mobility Initiative (known by its Hebrew acronym Na’ama), under the government-run Israel Innovation Authority.

The initiative was launched by the state-owned Ayalon Highways company, in cooperation with the Transportation Ministry, Civil Aviation Authority, and the Alternative Fuels Administration and Smart Mobility initiative in the Prime Minister’s Office, with the goal of opening Israel’s skies to the delivery drones and to create the regulatory and commercial conditions for the Israeli drone sector in coming years.

In the US, e-commerce majors Amazon and Walmart have been testing drone deliveries for the past few years. Zipline, a California-based drone start-up that delivers critical medical supplies in countries like Ghana and Rwanda, is pursuing a larger role in the Covid-19 global vaccine effort.

Such initiatives would only increase in the future, which could usher in a new era in the transportation and logistics sector.