Israel has begun conducting initial tests of autonomous drones capable of carrying passengers and cargo, in a bid to ease traffic congestion, Times of Israel reported.
The government-led pilot project, also known as the Israel National Drone Initiative (INDI), aims to create a national drone network and prepare the sky for drone deliveries. The project, a joint collaboration between the Transportation Ministry, the Israel Innovation Authority, Ayalon Highways Limited, and the Civil Aviation Authority of Israel (CAAI), marks the first use of such technology in the Jewish state.
#Israel has carried out its first tests of an autonomous aircraft that can carry passengers & heavy cargo – an air taxi. The revolutionary aircraft which is part of the Israel National Drone Initiative is expected to serve as future public transportation (Pic Credit: Mark Nomdar) pic.twitter.com/I8c6N6LR4P
— Children of Peace (@ChildrenofPeace) June 6, 2023
”This is the first initiative of its kind in the world for an extensive and multidisciplinary examination of new technologies, including the transportation of cargo and later, people. The collaborative project examines all the aspects – including regulation and legislative changes – involved in the commercial operation of drones, as an additional tool to deal with congestion,” Transportation Minister Miri Regev was quoted as saying by The Times of Israel.
11 drone operating and delivery companies were involved in tests and experimental flights throughout Israel last week. This is the second phase of the experiment, which began in January and involved an investment of around $60 million to develop drone infrastructure over the next two years.
Among the drones tested over the past week was AIR ZERO, manufactured in Israel, which can accommodate up to two passengers and a total payload of up to 220 kilograms for a distance of up to 160 kilometers. Dronery, Cando Drones, and Down Wind also conducted test flights with autonomous drones.
The companies participating in the initiative will conduct test flights across the country for one week each month, over the next two years. These flights will take place in controlled airspace, will cover distances of up to 150 kilometers, and will involve heavier payloads.
According to the National Drone Project, over 19,000 sorties have been flown in the past three years.
”Israel is one of the global leaders in this field, and today’s experiment is an important milestone in the National Drone Initiative which gained international acclaim,” said IAA Director-General Dror Bin.