Brazil’s Speedbird to use Israeli drone traffic system for food delivery network

Israeli startup High Lander, developer of an autonomous air traffic control system, has hired one of Brazil’s largest UAV operators to help safely run a drone-based network for delivering fast-food and groceries across the country. There is a partnership for

High Lander has signed an MoU with Speedbird Aero, a Rio de Janeiro-based drone operator, to deploy the Israeli startup’s Unmanned Traffic Management (UTM) platform. Speedbird manufactures unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) for the transport and delivery of goods for commercial, industrial and medical purposes. The drone delivery provider is working with iFood, Brazil’s largest food delivery app, to make thousands of food deliveries across the country.

“Speedbird is adopting High Lander’s technology because their drones are flying a lot in Brazil, which is over Sao Paulo and other urban areas, and they’re going to be launching in Rio de Janeiro, so they need to avoid conflicts.” There is a need to effectively monitor the airspace for collisions,” Alon Abelson, founder and CEO of High Lander, told The Times of Israel.

“Fast food delivery needs to be faster and cheaper than traditional means of transport, and in this sense drone delivery is helping companies like iFood deliver packages with greater speed, efficiency and safety to the isolated and complex locations they Were not able to. Do it first.

For example, there are many places in Brazil where you need to drive around a river to deliver a package, which may take you about 40 minutes, or you may be stuck at busy times while the drones cross the river. can cross over, and can reduce the delivery time. minutes, and last mile delivery is managed by traditional distribution, Abelson said.

As more drones take to the skies, Abelson, a veteran air traffic control commander in the Israeli military for more than 20 years, and co-founder of High Lander in 2018, is looking to manage drone fleets flying high above the ground. Co-founded to develop software for gathering intelligence or delivering anything from medical supplies and groceries to food delivery. This is because the rapidly growing traffic of UAVs has increased the risk of low-altitude air collisions and the need for autonomous air command and traffic control systems.

To safely deploy and monitor hundreds of drones operating in the same airspace as manned aircraft, an Israeli startup launched the UTM platform in 2020. The idea of ​​a UTM system works similarly to a traditional man-manned air traffic control station, only for drones run by computers and algorithms instead of people.

The High Lander and Speedbird teams at an autonomous air command and traffic control center in Israel. (Etiquette)

As part of the partnership, Speedbird will deploy the High Lander’s Universal UTM system to ensure “flight operations are performed safely and efficiently without endangering other aircraft or people on the ground, while allowing regulators to Demonstrating that full observation of unmanned aerial activity is possible,” both companies said in a statement.

“By leveraging High Lander’s UTM technology, we can ensure the safe and efficient operation of our drones, allowing us to deliver packages faster and more reliably than ever before,” said Samuel Salomao, Chief Product Officer, Speedbird. even in the most complex environments.”

In January this year, the Israeli startup entered into a partnership after attracting a $14 million investment from Edge Group, making the Abu Dhabi-based group a major shareholder. Edge, which has more than 20 aerospace development companies under its umbrella, said it will support the development and deployment of the Universal UTM platform as the group focuses on the development of autonomous systems including UAVs, smart weapons and cyber technologies.

To date, High Lander has raised over $20 million, including a grant from the Israel Innovation Authority. Abelson said that with the Emirati conglomerate’s latest investment, the startup plans to double its workforce from 20 to 40 employees in the next six months and open a new office in Tel Aviv next month. He said the office would include an air traffic command control center to globally monitor and track UAVs it is flying, much like a NASA command center.

High Lander and Speedbird are both part of a government-led pilot Project, Also known as the Israel National Drone Initiative (INDI), it was established in 2021 to create a national drone network and prepare the skies for drone delivery throughout Israel in collaboration with regulators and private companies.

Earlier this year, the INDI project entered its second phase with a larger drone fleet, a wider selection of drone types including air taxis, to build an infrastructure for a safe coexistence with manned aviation. Long distance with heavy load. Additionally, High Lander’s UTM platform has also been deployed by Israel’s National Police forces.

Alon Abelson, co-founder and CEO of High Lander. (Etiquette)

Israeli airspace is one of the most tightly controlled and busiest relative to the country’s size. It has a lot of incoming and outgoing aircraft as well as a heavy military air presence with planes and helicopters in both training and active duty.

As part of the INDI pilot project, more than 16,000 drone flights have been flown, in all weather conditions, delivering sushi, ice cream, medicines and more to hospitals, to residents in urban areas including Tel Aviv, Jerusalem, Hadera and Beersheva Are. ,

Last month, a test flight by an autonomous drone carrying 3.8 kg (8.4 lbs) of blood from the Rambam Medical Center in Haifa. It landed 13 minutes later after a 25.2-kilometre (15.7 mi) ride on the grounds of the Galilee Medical Center in Nahariya, close to Israel’s northern border with Lebanon.

“We field-tested our technology in Israel which is our sandbox working with the ecosystem and now we are expanding globally,” Abelson said. “Any obstacles such as buildings, towers, flying close to airports or even terrain changes become the responsibility of our UTM control platform to ensure that no collisions occur.”

The partnership with Speedbird also adds to a wider push for the High Lander in Latin America. In the coming weeks, the Israeli startup is expected to join a consortium of aviation players across the region, including Speedbird. Together with civil aviation regulators, Brazilian planner Embraer and nationwide ATM provider Cypher, the consortium will work on an infrastructure to enable drones to accompany helicopter traffic in São Paulo.

“As an air traffic controller and coming from an aviation family, as my brother is a pilot, we both recognize that somewhere in the future there is a big change ahead of us: my brother will no longer sit in the cockpit and I No I’m going to sit in the control tower – everything will be managed autonomously,” Abelson said.