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Israel tackles making deliveries by drone

Although the project is not close to completion, it is being followed around the world

Illustrative - A drone on the lookout point on the Mount of Olives with Jerusalem's Old City in the background, July 12, 2022. (Photo: Nati Shohat/Flash90)

Israel is working on phase two of the National Drone Initiative, which aims to build a network of autonomous drones to simultaneously deliver commercial goods, and potentially many other items, across Israel.

The drone-delivery project began in 2020 as a collaboration between the Israel Innovation Authority (IIA), Israel’s Transportation Ministry and a number of other national authorities, and now involves the Israeli Air Force and the Israel Airports Authority, among others. 

A budget of NIS 60 million ($16.6 million USD) has been invested in the project, divided equally between government and private financing.  

Ten private companies are working on the project, which will see trial flights across the country every month for more than two years. During the first public demonstration in January, drones flew deliveries from Dimona to Yeroham in southern Israel. The project has seen more than 17,000 flights carried out in and around 10 different Israeli cities, including the testing of emergency deliveries to 18 hospitals. 

According to Daniella Partem, who heads the Israeli Center for the Fourth Industrial Revolution, and works in collaboration with the World Economic Forum, Israel wants to develop a national drone network to be used beyond the delivery of commercial goods. According to Partem, the network could be used to deliver everything from military gear and emergency medical supplies, to takeout food and even people. 

“Besides commercial deliveries, there is the opportunity to save lives by transporting equipment, medicines and people between hospitals,” Partem said

Israel already uses drones in its military operations. In the Israel Defense Forces’ Operation Guardian of the Walls in 2021, the army used a large number of drones to target Hamas terrorists, who were launching rockets into Israel.

Although the project is not close to completion, it has gained a worldwide following.

“The IIA’s attitude toward innovation has evolved significantly over the years, and we have taken the approach that we want to be first movers in this field,” Partem said. “We see this as a win-win situation where we can influence the global market while enabling companies to experiment and gain expertise in their fields.”

“This is a project that people are watching from all over the world,” Partem continued. “We will continue to pursue this project, despite all the challenges. I dream that one day, I’ll get to fly in a drone over Jerusalem.” 

The All Israel News Staff is a team of journalists in Israel.

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