From apple-picking to security details: Six Israeli companies are developing specialized drones.
By Adi Pick, Calcalist
Over the past few years, drones have really taken off, going from a pastime for flight enthusiasts to a not-uncommon household gadget. But the potential for the small unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) does not end with taking elaborate selfies or accidentally shutting down London’s Gatwick airport.
Drones can be used for an array of tasks, in fields as versatile as security, agriculture, retail, and last-mile deliveries. Below are six Israeli companies developing drones capable of completing complicated tasks.
Year founded: 2016
Funding to date: $10 million, according to Pitchbook data
Founder: Yaniv Maor
Tevel Aerobotics Technologies Ltd. develops autonomous drones equipped with a one-meter long mechanical claw, which can pick fruit, or be used for thinning and pruning tasks in orchards. Tevel’s drones are equipped with artificial intelligence capabilities that let them identify fruit types, blemishes, and the fruit’s level of ripeness. While the company’s current version is only able to pick apples and oranges, Tevel is working to expand its drones’ capabilities to include additional fruits such as avocados and mangoes. In addition to its fleet of drones, Tevel intends to offer its own fleet management software, which collects and tracks data such as the fruit yield of each tree in the orchard as well as fruit quality.
Year founded: 2013
Funding to date: $10.5 million, according to Pitchbook data
Founders: Yariv Bash, Amit Regev
Flytrex Aviation Ltd. develops a cellular data communication module that allows operators to remotely control any drone using a mobile app in order to deliver food and goods. Flytrex’s drones are capable of delivering packages to the ground without landing using a detachable wire. In September 2018, Flytrex partnered with North Dakota’s King’s Walk Golf Course to offer food deliveries to golfers on the course. In 2018, Flytrex and local partner e-commerce company Aha.is began operating a drone delivery system to send goods across the river in Reykjavík, Iceland.
Year founded: 2017
Funding to date: Approximately $125,000, according to Pitchbook data
Founder: Eylon Sorek, Itzik Turkel, Michal Devir, Michal Devir
SkyX Ltd. develops technology that turns commercially available drones into spraying machines for use in agriculture. When spraying, the drones also take pictures and collect data about the terrain, crops, and pesticides, in order to optimize the fleet’s route using real-time auto-piloting.
Year founded: 2018
Funding to date: Approximately $450,000, according to Pitchbook data
Founders: Tom Yeshuron, Liav Muller
Civdorne Ltd. develops a mountable device that turns commercially available drones into land surveying, measuring, and marking machines for construction sites. Equipped with Civedrone’s device and software, a drone can both survey the land using its built-in GPS system and insert stakes into the ground without requiring the presence of an operator on location. Each stake used by the drones can be marked with a QR code, giving the construction team exact data and instructions.
Year founded: 2014
Funding to date: $101 million, according to Pitchbook
Founders: Ran Krauss, Meir Kliner
Airobotics Ltd. develops automatic drones capable of performing security details and land surveys at factories, refineries, and mining sites. The company’s drones take off from a large custom made box-shaped docking station and go about on their pre-assigned aerial missions. The drones fly back to the crate for recharging, storage, and sometimes for an automatic replacement of a specific camera or sensor.
Israel Aerospace Industries
Year founded: 1953
Last year, state-owned defense contractor Israel Aerospace Industries Ltd. (IAI) announced its new “suicide drone.” Rotem, the drone uses a grenade to attack and destroy targets in combat situations. Once in the air, the drone is operated by a quiet electric engine and transmits high-resolution visuals to a tablet device allowing the operator to monitor the situation and lock on to a specific target from a safe distance of up to 9.5 kilometers.