On Wednesday, residents of Hadera were treated to a sight that was the first of its kind in Israel, as the national air control authority tested a command room that was responsible for safely coordinating a large number of the small and pilotless flying vehicles. The drones shared the skies over the city with regular air traffic of small planes and helicopters.
Drones have the potential to operate in a capacity that can revolutionize the delivery industry as drones can carry anything from Pizzas and sushi to medications, between businesses and their customers. The widespread use of drones to take deliveries of this kind has raised fears in many places around the world of mid-air crashes that could also cause vehicular traffic and perhaps casualties on the ground.
Hagit Lidor of the Israel Innovation Authority, one of several state agencies involved in the test said, “This is an opportunity for the regulators to learn what is needed to establish delivery drones as a daily reality and for the drone operators to learn what is expected of them in turn.”
The test on Wednesday was the first live trial of what is planned to be a two-year test phase. The test saw Hadera’s airspace turned over to five private firms that flew drones on criss-cross runs designed to test the responses of a control room located in the city of Haifa, some 56 km (35 miles) away.
The control-room staff sent alerts and rerouting instructions to their operators electronically in order to keep the drones at least 60 meters apart and lower than 120 meters in the air. The drones were sent up in groups of 20 in order to mimic the conditions of numerous companies using drones simultaneously in the same city.
“For the first time, we are managing airspace as a single entity, synthesizing drone operators with established civil and military aviation,” Lidor added.
Lindor said that commercial drone deliveries that would be regulated by the national air space authority, are unlikely to start before 2023, but after that, the sky is the limit.