Initially developed and used mainly for military combat, unmanned aircraft and drones have become widely adopted in a variety of industries. From photography and product delivery to modelling and agriculture, the commercial drone market holds tremendous potential and has grown exponentially in recent years . According to a PwC study, as of this year the global non-military drone market is valued at $127 billion.
As a top developer of drone technology, and a leading global exporter of military drones, Israel has leveraged its know-how to develop a significant commercial drone market, with some startups in the industry generating international headlines for their innovative tech solutions.
With just over 60 drone startups in the Israeli tech ecosystem, according to Start-Up Nation Finder let’s take a look at eight of them that have been flying high.
Founded in 2013 by Yariv Bash and Amit Regev, Flytrex developed technology used in a drone delivery service that quickly transports food and consumer goods to clients. Drones can be equipped with different-sized containers that can carry anything from pizza to toys to six-packs of beer. The service has already been adopted in Iceland’s capital Reykjavik, where the drones deliver food and consumer products along 13 routes.
More recently, Flytrex began delivering refreshments to Americans golfers at the King’s Walk Golf Course outside Grand Forks, North Dakota. Flytrex will deliver food and beverages from King Walk’s restaurant, Eagles Crest Grill, which will be lowered down to patrons in specific locations as they make their rounds.
Bash told NoCamels earlier this year that the company is “going to change the way we consume goods.”
Percepto develops safety drones that allow militaries, refineries, ports, energy power plants, and other industrial sites to perform around the clock inspection of their facilities without human-interference.
Notably, in addition to the aerial vehicle and video camera, the service also contains a base that facilitates drone communication, as well as a cloud management platform that routes missions, manages fleets of drones and alerts users of dangers. These features allow Percepto to operate constantly without human-intervention, providing its users convenience at a lowered cost.
Earlier this month, Percepto won the 2018 Global Enabling Technology Leadership Award by Frost & Sullivan for “employing machine vision algorithms in its proprietary Sparrow drones as part of its complete autonomous drone-in-a-box system.”
The Sparrow was “designed specifically to operate in harsh industrial environments, a rarity in today’s drone landscape,” said Percepto CEO and co-founder Dor Abuhasira in a statement last year
Founded in 2014 by Abuhasira, Percepto originally targeted sports enthusiasts seeking to capture footage of themselves without physically holding a video capturing device.
Similar to Percepto, Airobotics also provides routine inspection, surveillance and mapping tools for industrial facilities through a video-camera drone. Founded in 2014 by Ran Krauss and Meir Kliner, Airobotics developed a pilotless, fully automated drone solution that collects pertinent aerial data, allowing industrial facilities to gain invaluable insights quickly.
Last year, it became the first company in the world with authorization to fly commercially in the tightly secured Israeli airspace.
And last month, Airbobotics opened its US headquarters in Scottsdale, Arizona. The company, which has raised over $70 million in funding, already has offices in Australia, as well as some operations in Chile and New Caledonia in the Pacific Ocean. It employes some 250 people across the world and plans to add 80 more jobs in Arizona by the end of 2019.
Earlier this year, Airobotics partnered with engineering company Rockblast to distribute autonomous drone systems in Chile, where it is being used to improve the safety and operations of Minera Centinela, one of the country’s leading mining companies.
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The Wall Street Journal also named Airobotics as one of the Top 25 Tech Companies to Watch in 2018. Earlier this year, it won the 2018 Global New Product Innovation Award by Frost & Sullivan.
Developed specifically for the construction and real estate industry, SiteAware, formerly Dronomy, provides on-site monitoring and supervision of construction sites.
The autonomous drones apply artificial intelligence to analyze visual data captured through a camera, ensuring worker safety and generating models for project budgeting and timelines. Contractors and engineers are also able to annotate the models generated.
“SiteAware captures unique and frequent project data using autonomous situation-aware drones, analyzes it and converts it into a digital replica that enables actionable tasks that are shared over the cloud to all relevant project stakeholders,” the company says.
SiteAware was founded in 2015 by Guy Raz and Ori Aphek and has already secured funding from Battery Ventures, Global Brain Corporation and 31Ventures.
A century ago, land surveyors manually took measurements to generate maps of urban areas. Now with Pixtier, a simple drone flight and video capture is all that is required to generate a 3D city model.
Pixtier is not a drone maker but it designed a software program that can automatically transform a series of two-dimensional aerial photos into accurate, three-dimensional digital maps. These maps can then be used in urban planning, homeland security, virtual reality tours, and even autonomous vehicles, and can be viewed in Auto-CAD (Computer Aided Design) or virtual reality.
Founded in 2010 by Dror Ouzana and Iovav Cohen, Pixtier was used in 2017 to generate a 3D virtual tour of Mar Saba, a monastery located east of Bethlehem.
Headquartered in Palo Alto, California with offices in Beit Heirut, in northern Israel, Edgybees guides first aid responders during emergency situations and natural disasters across the United States.
Through augmented reality, the product overlays critical details such as street locations and distress signals over real-time video footage. In particular, Edgybees was used by over 15,000 firefighters in 2017 in the aftermath of Hurricane Irma in Florida and in the October wildfires of Northern California, as well as after Hurricane Michael this month.
Founded in 2016 by CEO Adam Scott Kaplan, Edgybees distinguishes itself through its advanced algorithms, which provide rapid feedback in time-sensitive emergencies. The company raised $5.5 million in its seed round led by Motorola Solutions Venture Capital and Verizon Ventures.
Founded in 2016 to combat malicious drone threats, Convexum is a product that hijacks drones identified to be rogue, taking control of their flight path and landing them in a site deemed to be safe. In particular, the signalling software emits specific radio frequencies to communicate with the malicious drones, ensuring no interference with existing signals.
Co-founders Gilad Sahar and Niv Magen created this Tel Aviv-based company to counter the increase in criminal use of drones in industrial sites, parks, prisons and government offices.
Since 2002, Bluebird has provided tactical unmanned aerial vehicle solutions for a range of applications including surveillance, emergency monitoring, and law enforcement.
Notably, it provides a range of drones for custom solutions such as ThunderB, which can carry small cargo capsules under its wings, and SpyLite, whose small size allows it to endure the most extreme weather conditions.
Alongside civilian and homeland security applications, Bluebird has been adopted by the Indian army to conduct surveillance at high altitudes.