Pilotless Israeli drones take off in Australia

April 2, 2017 by J-Wire News Service
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Israel’s Airobotics is the first company worldwide granted with the authorisation to fly fully automated drones without a pilot..and the technology has found its first Australian client, mining giant South32.

The certification, that was presented by the Civil Aviation Authority of Israel (CAAI), is solidifying Airobotics’ status as a world-leader in the field of automated drones, allowing for the most innovative Beyond Visual Line of Sight (BVLOS) commercial drone operations.

This milestone proves that decisions and actions that were once taken by a human drone pilot, can now be taken by Airobotics’ computer software and artificial intelligence. Essentially, an authorised pilot is now replaced by an authorised computer.

This concept, of a system operating on its own, was designed and developed for the first time by Airobotics, solving some of the biggest problems for the drone market, such as high costs of labor, increased logistics around drone operations, expensive and lengthy training of aircrew as well as enabling customers that are not drone experts to perform highly complex drone missions.

For the past 24 months, Airobotics went through rigorous field testing and product verification process, inspected by CAAI, in order to prove the system’s safety case. After accumulating over 10,000 flight hours and automated flight cycles, producing dozens of technical manuals, engineering books, reports and analysis, Airobotics had passed all necessary tests and received the certification enabling the system to operate without a pilot as a safe, reliable drone solution.

The certification process started with an Alpha version in March 2015, progressed to a Beta version on August 2015, through to MVP (Minimum Viable Product) last year. The process demonstrated the system’s abilities, which were corrected along the way based on CAAI’s and Airobotics’ customers’ demands. These demands included adhering to safety standards, security procedures, emergency response, system reliability, and the capability to comply with flight and mission demands per Airobotics’ concept of operation. Examples of tests include environmental conditions, endurance and robustness testing. Throughout the process, Airobotics proved time and again to be at the highest level of field experience, while simultaneously adhering to regulation requirements.

The innovative certification process led by CAAI was based on the latest existing international standards for UAVs. This modern certification approach takes into consideration specific risk analysis and safety cases. Airobotics, together with the CAAI, is setting a new benchmark for the evaluations and approval of UAV operations for the rest of the world.

Airobotics’ drone system is operated in automated BVLOS mode without a certified UAV pilot at Airobotics’ first customer sites, Israel Chemicals (ICL) and Intel in Israel. Intel and ICL were instrumental as Airobotics’ first customers, and they continue to pioneer by adopting a truly automated system, and by allowing CAAI and Airobotics to conduct series of tests.

Based on the experience Airobotics has gained in Israel, the company is scaling its operations to additional markets, starting with Australia and USA.

Airobotics recently announced its first customer in Australia, the mining company South32. Airobotics is granted with a commercial license from CASA (Civil Aviation Safety Authority) in Australia and with an FAA waiver authorisation under Part 107 in the US.

“Here in Israel, we are always pushing the boundaries of innovation,” said Ran Krauss, CEO & Co-Founder of Airobotics. “We are proud to be at the forefront of the commercial UAV area, together with CAAI, and be able to lead the way for drone companies and regulators throughout the world.”

“Airobotics has completed a long cycle, which started in 2013. This newly granted certification is our next generation milestone, that completely takes the human drone pilot out of the equation in BVLOS operations. We predict this certification milestone will revolutionize the global market landscape, and pave the way for future applications of automated drones.”

As a completely automatic unmanned aerial system, the first of its kind in the global market, Airobotics enables industrial companies to leverage the power of drones without the need for a human operator. Airobotics’ platform provides customers with the ability to run missions automatically, allowing them to monitor, inspect, survey, and secure large industrial facilities and other strategic sites.

The Airobotics’ automatic platform is comprised of three parts: “Optimus”, a large, high capacity drone capable of flying 30-minute missions while carrying a one-kilogram mission specific payload; an “Airbase”, a completely automated base station from which the Optimus drone launches and lands on its own, without any human intervention; and “Software”, an integrated, dynamic software that enables users to control and manage missions with one click.

In summary, taking the human drone operator out of the equation marks an achievement, leading the way to the true fulfillment of robotics vision.

Airobotics continues to grows its presence in the Australian market with the appointment of Joe Urli as Director of Flight Operations, based in Brisbane. Business Development Vice President Yahel Nov said the expertise Joe Urli brings is considerable as Airobotics formally applies for a ReOC (Remotely Piloted Aircraft Operator’s Certificate).

“Joe Urli is well known to the Australian commercial drone and aerospace having held senior management roles in both the private sector (Boeing & General Electric) and public sector (CAA & CASA) as an Airworthiness and Air Transport Safety Inspector,” he said.

“He is also President of Australia’s peak commercial drone association (ACUO), and sits on a number of high profile panels and advisory committees and sub-committees.”

Joe Urli said: “Airobotics is dedicated to collaborating with regulators and is working closely with multiple NAA’s (National Aviation Authorities) around the world to educate and harmonise automated drone operations,” he said.

We are in the process of obtaining a CASA ReOC (Remote Operator’s Certificate) and we already have an FAA waiver authorisation under Part 107 in the US, as well as a commercial license from CAAI in Israel.

We are confident of the process with Australia’s CASA, as it has a long history as a global leader in aviation safety regulation in relation to the operation of remotely piloted aircraft systems.”

Australia’s Minister for Infrastructure and Transport Darren Chester announced a review of aviation safety regulation in October 2016, to enable innovation in commercial drone-usage.

The review follows regulatory amendments implemented in September, which place strict requirements on how and where drones can be operated.


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