Startup nations | Its a bird. Its a plane. Its Israels drone tech!

Drones have been reaching new heights in the commercial and private sectors, and Israel is considered a world leader in the industry.

More on that in a second, but first a bit about drones, which are also known as UAVs (unmanned aerial vehicles). An estimate from predicts that by 2021, 29 million consumer drones will be shipped globally, a 75 percent increase from 2016. And revenues from drone sales are expected to top $12 billion in 2021.

Drones are revolutionizing industries such as agriculture (bird’s-eye monitoring and crop analysis), filmmaking (affordable aerial footage never before possible), disaster relief and humanitarian aid (being able to see previously inaccessible areas) and construction (new ways to plan, build and improve projects from the sky).

Drone tech also impacts fields such as navigation, water leakage detection, warehouse logistics, and oil and gas safety.

Global retail giants such as Amazon are also ready to capitalize on the technology, wanting to use drones in their package delivery systems but still waiting for approval from U.S. regulators. In the United Kingdom, Amazon is already partnering with the government to test package delivery for items weighing less than five pounds (such items make up 90 percent of Amazon’s sales).

Now, back to Israel. According to the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute, Israel is the largest exporter of drones in the world. From 1985 to 2014, 60 percent of all exported unmanned aircraft in the world were produced in Israel.

Many of the most exciting UAV innovations come from Israel, which is why Israel’s Economic Mission to the West Coast will be bringing a delegation of drone technology companies to the Bay Area sometime in the coming year.

Here are a few examples of some innovative Israeli startups in the field:

Airobotics. A startup that recently raised $28.5 million, according to Bloomberg, Airobotics develops a completely autonomous drone that conducts missions (such as monitoring industrial facilities) and then returns to base on its own. A robotic arm on the landing pad replaces the drone’s batteries and any payload, preparing it for its next mission. Airobotics drones ( are equipped with mapping and photographic capabilities, and can integrate additional technologies such as infrared imaging.

Dronomy. According to Israeli startup Dronomy, construction sites are cluttered with obstacles that limit conventional drones and reduce the quality of data. Dronomy ( flies safely where conventional drones cannot and delivers project-critical, high-resolution 3-D data otherwise impossible to capture.

Percepto. Percepto integrates military-grade technology to service the renewable energy sector. Percepto ( uses machine vision, enabling drones to check and inspect windmills in large solar parks or remote areas. Deep-pocketed financial backers reportedly include Mark Cuban and Richard Parsons of the United States and Xu Xiapong of China.

Arbe Robotics. To help drones detect objects and avoid collisions, Arbe Robotics ( utilizes hardware and software connecting to all types of existing drones. This radar technology enables an aircraft to read the 360-degree space around it with a visual range of up to 200 meters.


Startup of the month

Taliaz. The Israeli startup Taliaz ( uses predictive algorithms based on genetic, clinical and demographic data to determine the most appropriate antidepressant medication for an individual patient. There are dozens of available medications for those suffering from depression, and not all patients respond in the same way. Moreover, most prescriptions are written by general practitioners who aren’t familiar with all the different kinds of antidepressants available.


Exit of the month

Saips. A little more than two years ago, this small machine-learning and computer vision startup applied to the Israeli Ministry of Economy’s “Smart Money” program, which awards grants to companies looking to enter a new market. On Aug. 16, in its quest to develop a driverless car within five years, Ford announced steps toward that goal, including  the acquisition of 12-employee Saips ( The deal was a huge vote of confidence for the Israeli autonomous driving industry, best known for Mobileye, which is listed on the New York Stock Exchange.

Gili Ovadia is the S.F.-based Israeli consul for economic affairs to the West Coast.