Israel is recognized as having one of the strongest, most advanced, and disciplined military forces in the world. The Israeli Air Force (IAF) has been leading the world in the development and implementation of drone technology. The training and expertise that IAF soldiers receive often sets them up to become leaders in the drone technology market upon the completion of their military service. Ben Alfi, Yair Shahar, and Aviram Shmueli are former IAF soldiers with unparalleled experience with drone systems. While serving in the IAF, Ben was a combat fighter pilot and UAV systems leader, Yair a combat navigator, and Aviram the head of the UAV R&D development unit of the IAF’s UAV and Space Department.
In 2017, the trio came together to form Blue White Robotics (BWR) to provide autonomous aerial solutions. Based out of Tel Aviv, BWR employs about 50 people, all experts in aviation engineering, software development, and flight systems. Another area that Israel has become known for advanced innovations is in agriculture. Israel pioneered hydration systems that allowed crops to thrive in arid environments. Today, Israeli agriculturists have once again lead the way on how drones can better farming practices. BWR has been supplying the platforms needed to ensure farmers have the drone technology to keep their farms successful. The systems that BWR creates enables autonomous aerial and ground equipment to manage crops. The software can manage an entire fleet of drones from a single command center.
In October of 2020, BWR announced that they would be opening an operations office in the United States. BWR has been awarded a coveted spot at the Syracuse Tech Garden, a technology startup incubator in upstate New York. Since 2004, the Tech Garden has been the place for technology innovators to get the support needed to advance their ventures. One of the key features of the Tech Garden is an official Federal Aviation Authority (FAA) drone test corridor. The corridor, located between Rome, in Oneida County, and Syracuse, in Onondaga County, is a 50 mile long test zone for incorporating drones into airspace. Throughout the corridor is an array of sensors that track drone capabilities that will eventually lead to drones being able to be widely used throughout the country safely within FAA guidelines.
BWR’s move to Syracuse is a huge step for them and the future of agricultural drones. The move has been made possible with an initial round of funding from private American investors to the tune of $10 million. Additionally, under the state of New York’s Excelsior Jobs Program, BWR will receive up to $300,000 in tax credits. The UAS Central Job Fund, a state funded program, will also be giving BWR $1 million. Both of these programs aim to draw businesses to the New York region to increase economic growth, particularly in technology sectors. Over the next five years, BWR estimates that they will need to hire at least 30 new employees to implement their agricultural drone platform.
BWR’s drone platform goes beyond the field of agriculture. The software is currently adaptable to 15 different types of drones, allowing it to be applied to a variety of commercial enterprises. BWR’s system can be just as easily applied to drones being used for mining and construction, emergency and first responders, energy, and even public transportation services. With over 500 tests under their belt, BWR is “the official and exclusive operator of all AV Testing & Smart Transportation Test Center in Israel, in collaboration with the Ministry of Transportation/Ayalon HW,” as stated on their website. They are looking forward to bringing their system to the US, expanding their expertise, and furthering the drone market as a whole.