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Drones, pollution sensors aim to make work at Ashdod port smarter

Ashdod Port Company Ltd selects 18 startups for an innovation program that seeks to shake up work methods with new tech

Shoshanna Solomon is The Times of Israel's Startups and Business reporter

Israel's Ashdod Port (Avi Rokeach)
Israel's Ashdod Port (Avi Rokeach)

The port of Ashdod, on Israel’s southern coast, has chosen 18 startups for a second cohort of a program that aims to bring innovation to centuries-old, low-tech work methods used by one of the nation’s two largest cargo ports.

The selected startups will get access to port facilities and workers to test out their products and the port may adapting their technologies for its own use. They come from the fields of cybersecurity, artificial intelligence and deep learning, the Ashdod Port Company Ltd., which runs the docks, said in a statement on Monday.

Among the firms selected is a maker of drones that will regularly patrol the port to ensure its security and operations. Another startup has developed a system to photograph newly imported cars from all angles as they are loaded and unloaded to and from the vessels to document any damage incurred during the journey and at destination. A third startup is developing sensors to detect air and sea pollution caused during the unloading of cargo, and a fourth has developed a way to turn vehicles operating in the port autonomous, so they can perform tasks independently. For the pilot, the system will be implemented on trucks that carry cargo within the port, the statement said. Another technology seeks to generate electricity from waves.

As Israel deals with the coronavirus crisis, the function of the Ashdod port has been critical, said Orna Hozman-Bechor, the chairwoman of the firm, in the statement. The port is “the main artery of the Israeli economy” and a strategic asset, she said. “The ability to integrate technology to protect it against global challenges is critical.”

The port, which handled over 1.5 million twenty-foot equivalent units (TEU) of cargo capacity in 2019 and almost 24 million tons of cargo, launched its innovation program last year and three startups were selected as part of the first cohort.

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