UVID 2019: The Future of Unmanned Systems

Over 2,500 people from around the world attended UVID 2019 – the 8th International Conference on Unmanned Vehicles. Dozens of companies showcased their systems in a major exhibition held alongside the conference. Special Coverage

Photo: Ronen Topelberg

The 8th edition of UVID – the International Conference on Unmanned Vehicles – was held today at the Avenue Convention Center in Airport City, Israel, and broke new records.

This year, over 2,500 people took part in the event and listened to fascinating lectures delivered by leading experts and senior officials in the field of unmanned vehicles.

A comprehensive exhibition was held alongside the conference, where dozens of companies displayed unmanned systems and support resources for the land, naval, and aerial theaters.

An initiative of IsraelDefense, the UVID conference is the foremost meeting place for all stakeholders in the field of unmanned vehicles in Israel, and is attended by leading Israeli and international players.

ISA Chief: “Technology has enabled us to prevent more than 450 terrorist attacks”

The Head of the Israel Security Agency (ISA), Nadav Argaman, was a guest at the conference. Speaking to media reporters, he said that Israeli technology enabled the Agency to prevent more than 450 substantial terrorist attacks in the last year. Argaman reviewed the exhibition held alongside the conference, and was introduced to the extensive range of technologies presented by Israeli exhibitors.

“We are an organization of people. As far as technology is concerned, we strive to obtain the best in the world. We create synergy within the organization – synergy with the Israeli national security system,” said Argaman. “That allows us to maintain our qualitative advantage opposite some challenging opponents. That has enabled us to prevent more than 450 substantial terrorist attacks in the last year.

“We do our best to safeguard the citizens of Israel so that they may live their day-to-day life quietly. Israeli technology and industry are always in our hearts. We acquire Israeli technologies before anything else. Innovation is a part of what we are,” said the ISA Chief.

“The Human Element will Make the Decisions on the Battlefield”

The Commander of the IAF Palmachim airbase, Brig. Gen. Yoav Amiram, referred in his address to the developments in the UAS world within the IDF.

Brig. Gen. Amiram explained that the remotely operated vehicle setup must deal with a contemporary enemy, which is a more urban enemy: it operates in urban areas, it is assimilated in the civilian population and difficult to spot. “For this purpose,” he said, “We need high-quality intelligence to close the loop.”

“In the future, we will face an extensive range of challenges, an extensive range of missions and multitasking. The missions will become more complex, and will require the setup to provide a range of tools, from drones to high-altitude platforms. The platforms will carry multiple sensors and versatile, multi-mission payloads. In some cases, we will be required to employ multiple platforms flying at different levels on more than one mission,” said Amiram.

Guy Oren, VP & Head of the E/O Directorate at Rafael, announced that a revolution is expected in the evolution of unmanned platforms. According to him, the revolution has to do with the massive computer resources, the sensing systems, the electro-optical systems, and the most important development – artificial intelligence, which is gradually integrated into the field of autonomous platforms.

A National Counter Drone Command Center

Lt. Col. N., Head of the National Counter Drone Team, spoke at the conference about the challenges of providing Israel with an effective counter-drone defense.

According to him, the drone threat calls for cooperation between authorities. “We established a national defense team that includes the ISA, Israel Prison Service, Israel Police, Israel Civil Aviation Authority, Israel Airports Authority, and others. The team reports to the National Security Council on a quarterly basis. We attempt to organize the regulation (usage, knowledge, enforcement), to specify the no-fly zones, we write the defensive doctrine for each authority and develop a joint force build-up program for enforcement and prevention,” said the officer.

Soon: Air Combat Encounters between Manned Aircraft & UAVs

Maj. Dr. David Alkaher, CTO & Innovation Leader at IAF Unit 108, presented the future challenges the IDF is expected to face with regard to air combat encounters.

“One of the most important dilemmas in the force build-up process is whether to invest in the development of the next cutting-edge missile or radar, or alternately invest in the utilization of information that already exists in our fighter platforms, to achieve decisive superiority,” said the officer.

He also said that “The continuous advent of threats in the theater calls on the pilot and UAV operator to possess the ability to process information quickly and effectively. Investing in specialized decision-support systems, as well as in automation and data utilization capabilities for the manned platforms, is a real opportunity to improve the survival of the manned aircraft and to expand the operational envelope of remotely operated systems.”

Brig. Gen. (res.) Eden Attias, Co-Chairman and Co-Founder of the Israel Drone Alliance, said that “The unmanned vehicle industry is developing at a very fast pace. This field offers new opportunities but also contains threats.”

According to Attias, the IDA brings together some of Israel’s largest industries, as well as smaller companies, “With the goal being the integration of research institutions, academic institutions, universities and any element that has an effect on and participates in the world of unmanned systems. The IDA maintains working connections with the Civil Aviation Authority with regard to the regulation of platforms.”

Imminent: New Frequencies for the Benefit of Unmanned Platforms

A special regulation session was held during the conference, which hosted speakers from various Israeli regulatory bodies associated with the field of UAS.

Asher Biton, Head of the Spectrum Engineering Division at the Israel Ministry of Communications, said during the session that frequencies that were hitherto available for government use only, will be made available for the benefit of public use. The agreement for making said frequencies available, which had already been signed, will come into effect very soon.

“I am happy to announce the signature of an agreement with government organs for making frequencies available in a manner that would make it possible to develop new frequencies in the 5.8 GHz range (following completion of the migration project) for the benefit of UAS applications,” said Biton.

Accuracy & Savings: The Contribution of UAS to Agriculture

Against the background of the negative forecasts predicting a worldwide shortage of food, Israeli agriculture now incorporates innovation from the world of drones, which helps to deal with the global problems.

Dr. Michal Levi, Senior Deputy Director-General of Agricultural Innovation at the Israel Ministry of Agriculture & Rural Development, explained that drones and new technologies, like image processing, robotics, Big Data, and AI, help to control and monitor crops and support high-precision agricultural techniques.

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Photography: Ronen Topelberg