Israeli startup, US firm join forces on indoor mini-drone for first responders

Autonomous indoor drone developed by Rosh Ha’ayin-based CyberBee and California’s EyeCloud will be deployed both in Israel and the US by emergency forces

Sharon Wrobel is a tech reporter for The Times of Israel.

A drone flies above the Gilboa region in northern Israel, on July 13, 2022. (Nati Shohat/Flash90)
A drone flies above the Gilboa region in northern Israel, on July 13, 2022. (Nati Shohat/Flash90)

CyberBee, an Israeli maker of the thinnest-ever flying drone, is teaming up with California-based to jointly develop an indoor mini-drone to be used by first responders in Israel and the US as a navigation tool in challenging locations where there is no GPS.

The project was selected by the US Department of Homeland Security’s Science and Technology Directorate and Israel’s Public Security Ministry and has received $1.75 million in funding from the Binational Industrial Research and Development (BIRD) Foundation, which encourages US-Israel cooperation.

Megan Mahle, director of industry partnerships at the Science and Technology Directorate, described the “innovative project” as “offering a significant leap in first responder capabilities.”

The indoor mini-drones are developed to help first responders rescue people trapped in a building during a terror attack, fire, or earthquake, or to follow robbers, terrorists, and shooters in indoor locations such as banks, malls, and schools.

As part of the homeland security project, Rosh Ha’ayin-based CyberBee’s vision-based spatial intelligence for robotic indoor navigation in locations without GPS will be joined with EyeCloud’s AI camera capabilities and real-time cloud processing technology. The high-accuracy, indoor, lightweight, and low-cost autonomous mini-drones are expected to be operational in the fourth quarter of 2024.

“Over the years, the Israeli Public Security Ministry has been looking for technological tools to enhance security in the public space,” said Gad Frishman, chief scientist at the ministry, in a statement. “We wish success to the awarded companies to further develop their joint system,” which, he said, increases first responders’ operational effectiveness.

The personal mini AI autonomous indoor drones are expected to be deployed by first responders such as search and rescue teams, law enforcement tactical teams, firefighters and military special squads.

Since 2016, the US Department of Homeland Security and Israel’s Public Security Ministry have partnered to fund technology cooperation between R&D companies in the two countries to find solutions for homeland security needs in areas such as cybercrime, border protection, UAVs, and advanced technologies for first responders.

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