Hadera, a town in Israel was abuzz with delivery drones on Wednesday as the authorities tested a central control room for the safe coordination of pilotless aircraft with each other.
The fame of the inexpensive, low-flying drones and their potential for transporting almost anything from place to place has brought up concerns of mid-air collisions which could result in casualties on the ground.
‘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’, said Hagit Lidor of the Israel Innovation Authority, a state agency involved in the test.
In the initial live trial of a two-year test phase launched in January, the airspace of rural Hadera was released to five private firms which flew drones on criss-cross runs to test the responses of a control room which was 35 miles away in the city of Haifa.
The drones were usually sent up 20 at a time. To keep them no more than 120 meters above ground and no less than 60 meters apart, the staff in the control room sent alerts and rerouting instructions to the operators electronically.
‘For the first time, we are managing airspace as a single entity, synthesizing drone operators with established civil and military aviation’, said Lidor.
She added that regulated commercial drone deliveries in Israel were not likely to happen before 2023, at the testing’s due end and relevant issues like legislation would have to be discussed.
The organizers said helicopters/planes were not a planned part of the trial which occurred on Wednesday, but may be involved in the next trial in June. The drones were told to steer clear of crop-dusters and paragliders commonly seen in Hadera by at least half a mile.
Lidor added that all the drones were equipped with parachutes to ensure safe landings in the event of a malfunction.
By Marvellous Iwendi.