Unmanned Vehicles Systems – From Necessity to Maturity
Dr. David Harari
Israeli Aerospace Industries
Since the Antiquity, the need for intelligence during peace and war times has been a real objective for every human group and every country. When we began in Israel, 40 years ago, to think how to develop our local Unmanned Air Vehicle System for real-time information, it was like making a bet for the future. The main questions were: Will we be entirely successful in developing such a new information system? Will such a system contribute to reaching needed objectives and to bringing back substantial information? First operational experiments showed that such a system can change the military doctrine giving to the commander on the battlefield, a 4D information tool (the 4th dimension being time). It was a real eye-opener!
During past decades, industry efforts focused on developing basic technologies and operational concepts, mainly in the military Unmanned Systems area. However, during the recent past, we have observed a change in orientation and expansion of the field into the civil sector, definitely showing transition to a higher maturity level. Three decades after the first operational use over a battlefield, progress is on-going in several areas, from standards to regulations, from a simple day TV camera to technical enhancements in different intelligence payloads, and in a variety of operational uses and applications on ground, air, sea-surface and underwater. The prospect of potential civil applications and civil missions is great and non-military use of UAVs represents a tremendous opportunity that has yet to be fully developed; there is growing demand despite the complexity of the problems to be solved. As such, unmanned systems are impacting the way we: secure the world; meet humanitarian needs; respond to natural disasters; monitor crime; detect areas of intense heat; improve hurricane forecasts; inspect various infrastructures; support archeology research, etc. The international association Medecins sans Frontieres is experimenting with using unmanned aircraft to transport medical supplies and samples in the remote regions of Papua New Guinea, where access to clinics for treatment of diseases like tuberculosis is difficult. Agriculture is finding new uses for airborne robots, including monitoring plant health and soil moisture, spraying fertilizer and seed, inspecting fences and exterminating pests. TV companies, like CNN, have been relying on small unmanned aircraft to add depth to news coverage. In the maritime sector, robotic technologies are developed for both sea-surface and underwater applications. Unmanned and autonomous vehicles are used for Hydrographic and Oceanographic applications and also in the Oil and Gas Industry where such systems are used for subsea explorations. Ground robotics, both for civil and military uses are also showing growth potential. This is the value of adaptability of such systems and it has saved military and civilian lives.
The unmanned systems market is changing at a rapid pace. The civil market is expanding rapidly and is expected to ultimately shrink the military market. Eventually, the military market will become another customer of the commercial side, driving down cost and increasing innovation.
Dr. David Harari Dr. Harari is an Electrical & Mechanical Engineer and has a PhD degree in Physics and Computer Systems Engineering from Paris University, France. He has held several positions in Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI). During a period of 16 years he developed the Unmanned Air Vehicle Systems (UAV) activities at IAI and after this period, he was the IAI Deputy Vice President for R&D and the President of IAI’s European subsidiary, European Advanced Technologies (EAT), located in Brussels, Belgium. He is the Co-Chairman of the French-Israeli High Council for Science and Technology and the Chairman of the Board of Tactical Robotics Ltd. David Harari has received many international awards: The Israel Defense Award; The Israel Marketing Award; The Unmanned Aerial Vehicles International Pioneer U.S.A. Award; The French National Order of Merit; The French Legion of Honor; An award for life accomplishment from the Israeli Engineers Federation. He is listed by the “Industries et Techniques” French magazine as one of the scientists that has most influenced the scientific world in the last decades and was also listed by the French Economist Magazine “Challenges” as one of the 100 personalities who change the world. In 2011, David Harari received the Israel Prize in the field of engineering; this award, handed out by the State of Israel, is largely regarded as the state’s highest honor. He is member of the Board of Directors of the Chamber of Commerce & Industry Israel-France and the representative in Israel of the Forum Francophone des Affaires.