For citizens of Israel, the concept of drones flying over their homes has often sparked feelings of apprehension that go beyond privacy concerns. As Israeli journalist Ora Coren notes, “the Israeli public’s primary familiarity with drones has come from attempts to fly them into Israeli airspace from Lebanon.” So it may come as a surprise that, far from shying away from commercial UAV tech, the Middle Eastern nation is starting to show signs of supporting the drone industry as a viable emerging market.
A sign of changing Israeli attitudes about drones emerged last week when a noted homeland security firm hosted one of the nation’s first trade shows dedicated to unmanned flight. I-HLS, a media outlet “dealing exclusively with Israeli Homeland Security,” hosted the Autonomous Unmanned Systems and Robotics Expo 2015 in Rishon Letzion on Sept. 7-8. The expo featured drone air shows, demos, company booths and an eclectic mixture of military and commercial industry speakers reflecting Israel’s unique take on drones as both a national security issue as well as an economic opportunity.
Although the commercial drone sector in Israel may be late to the game, home-grown start-ups are eager to catch up. “Israel has been a leader in the broader field of unmanned aerial vehicles, but has been asleep at the switch as the drone field developed,” Coren points out in a recent news report. “Civilian use of drones has been on the increase, but that has not been the focus of major defense firms.”
Tel Aviv-based Colugo is a prime example of an up-and-coming Israeli drone company – the firm is developing commercial delivery drones that can also provide sensor data for agricultural applications as well as search-and-rescue.
“We believe it will be possible to fly [Colugo’s latest drone model] out of the country – an aircraft for all intents and purposes,” Colugo CEO told Israel news source Haaretz. “We have developed a unique concept involving wings that can switch angles, making precision gliding, takeoff and landing possible. The wings are attached to the body via a hinge and move freely. Our drone can fly for three hours, in contrast to competitors that fly for an hour,” he added.
Some companies, like Israel-based defense firm Aero Sentinel, will continue to provide drones primarily to the defense community but see new possibilities in the domestic commercial sector. Company founder Israel Vaserlauf sees drones changing the way society functions and hopes that Israel will not be found “lagging behind.”
Jason is a longstanding contributor to DroneLife with an avid interest in all things tech. He focuses on anti-drone technologies and the public safety sector; police, fire, and search and rescue.
Beginning his career as a journalist in 1996, Jason has since written and edited thousands of engaging news articles, blog posts, press releases and online content.
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