Israeli drone that gives first person view into buildings catches US Army’s interest

Israeli drone Skylord lets soldiers ‘fly through’ buildings to locate terrorists.

By Paul Shindman, World Israel News

The U.S. military is launching a pilot program to give American troops a new Israeli drone that lets the operator see what’s happening as if they are riding on the drone itself, the Ministry of Defense announced Tuesday.

Developed by the Israeli high-tech company XTEND, the Skylord drone equips the soldier operating it with goggles that show the drone’s view as it’s flying.

The drone itself is small and similar to readily available hobby drones, but the Skylord is equipped with advanced first person view (FPV) technology.

Wearing the goggles allows the soldier to see what the camera mounted on the drone sees, and the aircraft is small and nimble enough to be flown down hallways and into rooms where terrorists or enemy troops can be hiding.

XTEND says the system can be used for identifying hostile targets and has been deployed with the IDF where the company claims that it has been used in over 2500 successful interceptions on the Gaza border, including knocking airborne incendiary balloons out of the sky.

The Ministry of Defense said the system was developed in a joint program with the Combating Terrorism Technical Support Office (CTTSO) of the U.S. Department of Defense and is being deployed in the field.

“An operational pilot program has been launched employing Skylord drones in the defense of U.S. military forces,” the ministry tweeted.

“This is the first step towards the widespread deployment of smart systems to U.S. military forces, enabling them to perform complex tasks in the modern battlefield,” the ministry said, adding that the joint program “highlights the crucial and extraordinary relations between the U.S. and Israeli defense establishments.”

Several dozen Skylord systems are expected to be deployed for evaluation by U.S. troops. An XTEND company video shows a simulation in which troops fly Skylord into a large building in a war zone where they are able to see down hallways and through doorways to find a terrorist sniper.

Using the drone saves the soldiers from direct exposure and risk in locating enemy troops or terrorists. It’s as if they have an extra soldier they can send directly into harm’s way. Once located, troops can more safely engage the enemy.

“This joint activity implements novel technological capabilities taken from the field of AR [augmented reality] and from the world of gaming,” said Lt. Col. Menachem Landau, who heads drone research at the Defense Ministry.

Xtend CEO Aviv Shapira said he was thrilled to be moving to the pilot stage with the American military and getting “the opportunity to deploy our systems in operational missions – and to protect the lives of both U.S. and IDF combat soldiers.”