A startup based in Petah Tikva, Israel, Airobotics, has scored the right tofly drones autonomously for business purposes in Israel. TheCivil Aviation Authority of Israel (CAAI) was the first in the world to authorize commercial, fully unmanned drone flights in their nations airspace.
Airobotics drones are marketed for use in site surveying, security and other industrial applications. Allowing these drones to fly sans operator means that companies can run inspections for miles along power lines, train tracks or acres of farmland, for example, without humans positioned along the route or token interruptions for point-checks.
The startups self-flying, quadcopter drones launch and land from a base station where theycanswap out spent batteries for newly charged ones. Running for 30 minutes at a time, Airobotics drones can launch and precisely land themselves.Proprietary software and on-board sensors enable themto navigate, avoid obstacles and complete plannedmissions without the intervention of a human operator.
So-calledbeyond visual line of sightcapabilities are not unique to Airobotics drones. Parrot companySenseFly SA in Switzerland, aerospace giants Boeing via their Insitu Inc. subsidiary, andHeliscope in partnership with Scoptio in Denmark are among companies already safety-testing these systems. In the U.S., the state of North Dakota has given Harris Corporation permission to develop and test itsBVLOS systems.
However, Airoboticsis the first to successfully commercialize truly autonomous dronesin the private sector. Its drones can also land within a tight space, which is moreunique among drone manufacturers and operators.
Thecompanyraised $28.5 million in venture funding last year from investors including BlueRun Ventures, and Noam Bardin, chief executive of Google-owned Waze, and Richard Wooldridge, formerly the chief operating officer for Googles Advanced Technology and Projects.
At this rate, it seems self-flying drones will be circulating in the skies long before self-driving cars are commonplace on our roads.
Corrections: An earlier version of this postcalled Noam Bardinan ex-googler. He is still Chief Wazer at Google. We regret the error.