With the drone industry growing rapidly, both for recreational and commercial applications, drone safety is a consideration that will undoubtedly grow at an equal level.
Australia is one of the leaders in utilising the technology for defence, and the concept of protecting both the machine and those on the ground is proving extremely important.
In this edition of 'On Point', managing director of ParaZero, Eden Attias joined host Phil Tarrant to explain how Australia can tackle the challenges arising with more cluttered airspace, as well as giving insight into his company, which specialises in drone safety throughout the production process.
Attias also spoke about his time in the Israeli Armed Forces.
Phil Tarrant: So, tell us a little bit about ParaZero, what do you guys do?
Eden Attias: So, I think as you mentioned before, we see drones in use for many years in the military. Israel, I believe, was one of the first, almost more than 30 years ago, that started using drones in military. But what's happened in the last few years is the move from this technology into commercial application, and civilian and commercial application. And in many ways, this is disruptive, and it's going to change the way we, as humans, do things. It will provide alternative ways in doing stuff much more affordably, less risky, and that's kind of the huge potential.
Phil Tarrant: What's your view on Australia's engagement with drone technology at the moment? Are we pretty sophisticated? Be critical if you like!
Eden Attias: Military wise you have definitely adopted drones ... the same as when the UK, the US; more or less the same. You're using different type of military drone, one of them is ... Israeli made. What I learned during this current road tour was impressive because we don't have it even in Israel. There's a decision in the Australian Army that any soldier in the tactical should have a capability or should require a capability to operate drones, as they understand and realise that this is the new future.
They both have a few hundred of those high-end commercial drones instead of expensive military drones for training use. I think this is great and shows that this technology or the potential of technology is definitely understood in the military.
The commercial side and the civilian side we see it gradually in Australia. One of the organisations that I'm going to meet with is Australia Post apparently, and ... Australia Post as well is having a problem to see if it can use drones for delivering packages maybe in rural areas, before they will just start travelling inside the Sydney CBD. We're going to meet with them and expose our technology that will hopefully enable them to fast track this ... what they're looking to do.
Phil Tarrant: How do you end up heading up a business around drone safety after many years and service in the air force. Can you tell us a bit about what you've done in the air force and how you've shifted into commercial life?
Eden Attias: A lot of people ask me this question. I spent more than 30 years in the Israeli Air Force doing a full military career. I'm a retired brigadier general in my rank so most of my time I was flying ... and commanded squadrons and bases. That's what I've done in the air force, instead of managing 20 engineers, I used to have hundreds of soldiers and thousands of people working ... it was a different environment.
Back to back I had an opportunity to serve three years in Canada as a diplomat under our embassy or in our language a defence attache. Mainly dealing the bilateral defence between Canada and Israel. It's a very supportive country for us and we have great relation. Intelligence and defence bilateral was covered through my office. This was a great opportunity to get exposure for the aerospace industry because that's one of the things that we're promoting under this role. Then when I went back to Israel, I needed to decide what would be the next phase, and I decided what I'm not going to do. That was the first. I decided I'm trying first to avoid defence pure stuff, which means to go to one of the expected Israel aerospace, which you know offer you those VP position to come and continue more or less what you're doing.
I said no, and I started working with some private investors from the UK that I met along the way that were looking for investing in Israeli technology. Although I didn't have a clue of how to invest and what to invest in. In the air force we're trained to do, you know, you doing work, you explore the market and I found out this area of drone technology that I know well out of what drone can do from the military, but for civilian and commercial application.
After getting into that I said this is the next revolution, this is where I want to be involved. In fast track I found myself becoming a funding partner of a group of companies, we split them, each one went to a different direction and are doing fine. I later on become the active CEO of this company, which the uniqueness of this safety will be needed for any type of drone in any type of article and I said I'm looking for something which is cross industry type solution, and that later on could be developed and become an industry standard and could deal in managing all drone traffic that will be in the air.
Not just from the safety side, from other application side. That's what I'm doing in the last two to three years almost; it was a rough transition. I mean, it's a chaotic environment, it's almost you need to invent yourself, your way of thinking, the people you meet. You used to meet people that say, "That's what we are going to do." And usually that's what they're doing. But in this civilian world it's slightly different, sometimes they say that's what they're doing, they're doing other stuff. But you need to learn how to play accordingly. I call it a bootcamp. Literally to do another bootcamp. I'm saying that the transformation I had to run through in the last two years is almost [to the same] extent as the 28 years of service in the military.
Fast forward, very aggressive and I'm happy that I survived it you know.
You can listen to the full podcast with Eden Attias, managing director of ParaZero, here.