ISRAELI drone solution provider Airobotics has become the first company in the world to be granted authorisation to fly fully automated drones without a pilot, albeit only drones commercially deployed and flown in Israeli air space.

A “conventional” airobotics drone being trialed at a South32 mine.

Certification was granted by the Civil Aviation Authority of Israel, which authorised drones commercially deployed in Israel to fly without a pilot-in-command in beyond visual line of sight mode.
This level of certification is the most innovative level of commercial drone operations, allowing computer software and artificial intelligence to take the place of a human drone pilot.

Airobotics’ drone system can fly in automated BVLOS mode sans pilot only on customer sites in Israel, including Israel Chemicals’ Tel Aviv base and Intel Israel’s sites around the country.

As Airobotics’ first local clients, Intel and ICL helped push development by allowing the company and the CAAI to conduct testing on-site at facilities in Tel Aviv and Haifa.

Two years of field testing and product verifications under vigorous environmental conditions proved the drone system’s safety standards, security and emergency response procedures and system reliability to CAAI inspectors.

The three-stage certification process was based on the latest international standards for UAVs and included an Alpha version (March 2015), Beta version (August 2015), and Minimum Viable Product or MPV (2016).

Inspectors also looked at the 10,000 flight hours and automated flight cycles and tested flight and mission compliance, as well as the dozens of resulting technical manuals, engineering books, reports and analysis.

Airobotics’ drone system consistently reached the highest level of field experience in the process and strictly adhered to regulation requirements.

Now the company has its eye on Australia.

Airobotics’ commercial unmanned aerial vehicles recently launched in Australia after the company secured a commercial licence from Australia’s Civil Aviation Authority and authorisation from the Federal Aviation Administration of the United States.

South32 has jumped on board and will be Airobotic’s inaugural Australian customer.

Airobotics co-founder and CEO Ran Krauss said the company was proud to be at the forefront of the commercial UAV area and to be leading the way for drone companies and regulators throughout the world.

“This certification is our next generation milestone, that completely takes the human drone pilot out of the equation in BVLOS operations,” he said.

“We predict the certification milestone achieved will revolutionise the global market landscape, and pave the way for future applications of automated drones.”

Airobotics Australia chief remote pilot and director of flight operations Joe Urli said certification was a major achievement for the company and its future growth globally, with Airobotics continuing to lead the charge in innovation by pursuing its vision to be the world’s best. [Mining Monthly]