Israel’s Rafael defense firm develops tech to take over vehicles in emergency

A safety measure will allow an operator to concentrate on other things – like returning enemy fire.

By Batya Jerenberg, World Israel News

An Israeli defense company has unveiled a mechanism that can take over the operation of a car or airplane in case of emergency, Israel Hayom reported in an exclusive on Thursday.

The device is a sensor-adorned joystick, which has repeatedly taken over the controls of a simulator successfully over months of testing, said the report. It can be adapted to many kinds of vehicles, whether on land, sea or air.

“It can be installed in every place a human interacts with a [mechanical] system,” a spokesman for Rafael Advanced Defense Systems said.

Rafael is one of Israel’s leading manufacturers of defensive weapons such as the acclaimed Iron Dome system. The company says it developed its high-tech joystick because it has been shown that when people are suddenly faced with high-pressure situations, their ability to act decreases exponentially.

“There are physiological metrics today that allow a system to detect changes in an operator,” said one of the system’s inventors, “but these are invasive systems for which you need to paste stickers [on the person] or wear a watch, in contrast to our system, which independently identifies the metrics. Also, the existing systems know what’s going on with the operator [only] with a time lag of several seconds, because it takes time to examine the data.”

Those few seconds are critical, he said.

“In real time, it’s too late. Our system measures the pressure according to the way [the control] is held, in contrast to metrics that exist today, such as pulse or sweating skin, which take a comparatively long time to measure.”

One example of a practical scenario where the invention can be a lifesaver is when a pilot is suddenly fired upon. The airplane is then maneuvered by the new autopilot system so that the pilot can concentrate on his counter-attack without having to simultaneously control his jet.

It is estimated that the device will become operational in just a few years.