Hadera residents to start getting delivery by drones in pilot project

Israel National Drone Initiative enters second phase, which will see unmanned craft peppering skies in and around the northern city’s neighborhoods

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

Drones flying near the city of Hadera on March 17, 2021, in a pilot run by the Israel Innovation Authority with partners and startups to create a network of drone deliveries in Israel (Courtesy)
Drones flying near the city of Hadera on March 17, 2021, in a pilot run by the Israel Innovation Authority with partners and startups to create a network of drone deliveries in Israel (Courtesy)

Israelis in and around the city of Hadera will be able to start ordering in hamburgers and pizza, cosmetics and medicine to their doorsteps, part of the nation’s drone pilot program started earlier this year.

The National Drone Initiative, which began its flights over urban areas in January 2021, entered a second phase in its pilot program, which includes flights over residential areas in and around Hadera.

This new phase is part of a series of eight demonstrations that are expected to take place during the coming two years, in which tens of thousands of sorties will take place in the skies above Hadera. The goal is to help fine-tune drone technology and ultimately help cut road congestion by creating a network of air corridors for unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) deliveries of medicine, medical examinations and equipment and ecommerce.

“The National Drone Initiative is reaching new heights, initiating services to customers,” said Dror Bin, CEO of the Israel Innovation Authority, in a statement. “The Israel Innovation Authority sees great value in ensuring that Israeli citizens will be able to benefit from local innovation and enjoy advanced services such as receiving goods delivered via drones to their home.”

The project will enable participating companies to test out their technologies in “real-world settings, in which multiple drone companies are operating in real time,” he said. This will help improve their performance and their competitive position in the global market.

The pilot project, which transforms Israel into a beta site where drone test flights and deliveries take place, aims to help players in the field — drone makers, retailers and regulators — understand what our skies will look like in the future as hundreds and thousands of drones pepper our firmament to fulfill various needs.

In this second phase of the pilot project, which started Tuesday, flights are being carried out over Hadera’s residential neighborhoods. In addition, there are demonstrations of end-to-end drone deliveries, from the moment the order is placed via an app up to and including the delivery of the goods. This is the first time that drone delivery flights are carried out within urban residential neighborhoods from key takeoff points in the city, in close proximity to businesses, public institutions and other urban environments, the Israel Innovation Authority said in a statement.

The flights are operated by six companies working closely with the Israel Police, the Fire and Rescue Services and the IDF Home Front Command.

The operational system in place will be able to prioritize the various drone flights and clear the airspace when a large aircraft or one operated by the emergency services enters, the statement said.

The initiative is a collaboration between the Israel Innovation Authority, the Transportation Ministry (through the Ayalon Highways company), the Israel Civil Aviation Authority (ICAA), and the Smart Transportation Authority.

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