This past Friday (Feb. 25th), civilians and civil servants alike set their alarms to wake up before the sun. What was the common denominator for this seemingly unconnected group? They were all participating in the Tel Aviv Marathon. As police and volunteers started setting up blockades for the city at 4:00 am, 40 000 civilians got in their final hours of rest before the big race. As they woke, they slowly started preparing themselves both mentally and physically for what was to come; some might have meditated, while others packed in energizing carbs. Regardless, the day that they had all been training for had finally arrived.

Unfortunately, Israel is no stranger to terrorist activity, but when it comes to marathons, neither is the world. Whether you read about it in the news or saw the Mark Wahlberg movie about it, the 2013 Boston Marathon bombing still runs deep for many people, as it killed 3, and injured hundreds. Since marathons are normally packed with both participants and bystanders there for moral support, it is a perfect breeding ground for criminal and terrorist activity. That is why security for such an event is of utmost importance.

This year, Israeli startup Airwayz Drones teamed up with the Israeli Police and Tel Aviv Marathon, to provide a drone network to be the ‘eyes in the sly’ and help secure the event. UTM, which stands for Unmanned Traffic Management, is a way to manage airborne drone networks, which is becoming increasingly necessary as the use of drones grows in popularity, be it for food and agriculture delivery, city inspection and mapping, or air taxis. During the marathon this past Friday, Airwayz used its AI-based UTM to help manage the security of the race, as the drone network gave police greater coverage of the area, whilst intelligent software identified events requiring police attention, enabling faster responses and more efficient deployment of the workforce.

How it worked

During Friday's race, drones patrolled the marathon course and stayed airborne as long as possible to provide maximum support for the police. There were individual drone fleet operators who were responsible for running patrols along assigned routes, as well as tethered drones that monitored concentrated areas and the start and finish lines. All drones were connected by Airwayz’s system to be allowed to work freely and safely over the urban environment; their analytical system examined images from the drones in real-time and flagged behaviour patterns that suggested police attention to be necessary. The collaboration demonstrated and put into practice the viability of multiple drone operators in the same urban airspace.

Generally, Airwayz’s flight systems and UTM platforms feature artificial intelligence functions such as advanced mission planning, remote control and multiple autonomous flight modes that can be utilized for a variety of applications. Airwayz platform learns the dynamic urban environment and enables a completely automated system for real-time management of unmanned airspace. Airwayz is thus revolutionizing the airspace, by paving the way for scalable multi-drone fleets operations and opening the skies to the commercial drone era. It is in this regard that Israel is leading the world with yet another form of technology, but this time for smart mobility. And what a better way than to use their influential platform than to keep the ambitious runners of Tel Aviv safe.

Eyal Zor, CEO and Co-Founder of Airwayz stated, “Supporting the police with this project shows that operating multiple drone fleets is absolutely possible in a busy urban environment. We’re proud to see Israel pushing the boundaries, developing a drone ecosystem, and demonstrating the benefits the technology can bring to security, mobility and much more.”

Airways was founded by Eyal Zor (CEO), Yair Yosef (CPO) and Shai Kurianski (CTO) in 2018.