vHive Raises $25 Million in Series B Led by PSG

vHive, a software solution that enables enterprises to deploy autonomous drone hives to create Digital Twins of their assets, announced today that it has secured $25 million in Series B funding. The funding round is led by PSG, a leading growth equity firm partnering with software and technology-enabled services companies to help accelerate their growth. Previous investors Octopus Ventures and Telekom Innovation Pool (TIP), Deutsche Telekom’s strategic investment fund advised by DTCP, also participated in the round. Ronen Nir, Managing Director at PSG, has joined vHive’s board of directors.

vHive’s software platform provides end-to-end solutions that enable organizations to autonomously capture data using drones to create Digital Twins of their assets, such as cell towers, cranes, and structures. Its AI and computer vision algorithms were built on comprehensive data and hands-on field experience with global top-tier customers to deliver performance and capabilities that vHive believes are hard for others to replicate. The company believes its ability to connect the physical and the digital world provides enterprises with a new way to digitally transform their field assets, visually access information, and rapidly reach actionable business insights.

PSG’s investment in vHive aims to further accelerate the company’s expansion of its global customer base and enable the company to scale up operations in key markets, as well as to enter new ones. The investment is also intended to help bolster vHive’s enterprise digitization platform market leadership and product offerings, which include autonomous drones, data analytics, computer vision, and AI, and fuel the development of new solution capabilities for key markets.

“We believe vHive has built one of the industry’s most advanced and comprehensive digitization solutions, and we are excited to seek to replicate our success in the telecom and crane markets in new market verticals,” said Yariv Geller, CEO and Co-Founder of vHive. “We are thrilled to partner with seasoned investors who share a common vision to advance the company’s mission, extend its reach, and scale its customer base.”

“vHive’s solutions for capturing and digitizing physical assets have enabled the company to build a reputation as a strong partner of choice for top-tier enterprises going through digital transformation – a global trend that is sweeping through multiple industries. Its customers can experience measurable success using vHive’s solution, impacting their operations and workflows,” said Nir. “We have been impressed with the company’s rapid growth and are excited to propel it to the next level.”

vHive is a global leader of Digital Twin software solutions. vHive accelerates enterprises’ continuous digital transformation, enabling them to make better decisions based on accurate field data, analytics, and insights. vHive is a leading software solution that enables enterprises to deploy autonomous drone hives to digitize their field assets and operations.

Credit photos: vHive

Three Israeli drone companies are on the fast track to receive permanent FAA license 

[Pictured above: Aerobotics’ Optimus EX-1 drone]

First time in the autonomous Unmanned Aircraft industry, the FAA is close to issue a global certification for drones, similar to manned ones. As no unified standards exist for unmanned aircraft, the FAA has developed a designated Durability and Reliability verification process to establish criteria as an element of the proposed certification. The FAA has published last month the Airworthiness Criteria for Special Classes of Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS), following public comments, which includes 10 drones of several companies, among them three Israeli companies: Airobotics, Flytrex and Percepto.    

Percepto Company has received a final criterion for its 2.4 UA drone, designed for monitoring and lookout missions. This certificate will allow the drone to fly over populated areas at an altitude of 393 ft and 28 mph. Flytrex Company has received a final criterion for its FTX-M600P drone, designed for delivery of packages. This criterion covers a relatively low altitude – 230 ft and a speed of 34 mph. Airobotics Company has received a final criterion for its Optimus EX-1 drone, allowing it to fly over populated areas at an altitude of 393 ft and 31 mph.

The process of gaining the approval in front of the FAA has started for Airobotics at September 2019. Currently, in order to fly a drone it is required to request a waiver for each mission and each area cell where the drone is expected to operate. For example, if an infrastructures company is interested in flying an autonomous drone over it site for monitoring and security, it requires requesting a special approval. Gaining a “type certificate” will make it possible to operate the drone under the label of its type, without the need to request a special approval, in the same way it is done for manned aircrafts today. 

Flytrex delievery drone

Global certificate, similar to manned aircraft

Getting the final certificate will extend the drone’s usage capabilities, and will shorten the bureaucratic processes required to operate it. Airobotics VP Aviation and Regulation, Niv Russo, explains in a conversation with Techtime that up to date, no aviation authority had issued such criteria for unmanned aircrafts, “Surely not for a vehicle characterized by high level of autonomy such as our drone. Airobotics’ model has received a highly expanded criterion.  We gathered many hours of flying an experience that made it possible for the FAA to define the safety level of the vehicle. We have completed all the tests and proofing and we are in the final bureaucratic phases. I guess we are in the most advanced phase within this process’.

According to Russo, “this is a defining moment for the whole global drone industry”. Airobotics’ Optimus EX-1 is used for surveying, mapping and lookout missions. This model is intended to operate in demanding environment conditions and is completely autonomous. It navigates its position at a 1cm resolution and is able to perform its mission autonomously and independently return to its docking station. Back in the docking station, the drone is capable of autonomously performing a full process of switching battery and payloads. One of the drone’s safety facilities is an emergency parachute developed by the Israeli ParaZero Company, assuring safe landing in case of a fault. 

Percepto’s patrol drone

Smart Shooter reveals ultra-precise fire control system for UAVs

SMART SHOOTER, a designer, developer, and manufacturer of innovative fire control systems that significantly increase the accuracy and lethality of small arms, reveals the SMASH Dragon: an armed drone system incorporating Smart Shooter’s combat-proven SMASH Technology that ensures precise target elimination.

Presented by the company for the first time, SMASH Dragon is an advanced robotic weaponry payload that can be mounted on different drones and other unmanned aerial platforms. It can incorporate various types of assault rifles, sniper rifles, 40mm, and other ammunition with great precision. Extremely lightweight and therefore allowing long mission endurance, SMASH Dragon integrates a unique stabilization concept with the SMASH technology that enables the system to accurately hit static and moving targets while flying.

Featuring SMASH’s proprietary target acquisition and tracking algorithms as well as sophisticated computer vision capabilities, the remotely operated SMASH Dragon Offers the SMASH technology’s fast and precise hit capabilities and other exclusive benefits while engaging targets from the air.

The company stated that the system has successfully completed live firing tests and is currently under advanced stages of development. 

Michal Mor, SMART SHOOTER CEO: “Smart Shooter’s SMASH technology offers precise elimination of threats at ground, air and sea. We are now happy to offer the same precise, combat-proven target engagement technology mounted on an unmanned aerial platform that can be controlled from a distance. When it comes to drones, platform weight is a critical factor as it impacts mission endurance and cost, and we are proud to announce that the extremely lightweight SMASH Dragon meets this criterion”.

One shot – one hit

SMART SHOOTER is a world-class designer, developer, and manufacturer of innovative fire control systems that significantly increase the accuracy and lethality of small arms. With a rich record in designing unique solutions for the warfighter, SMART SHOOTER technology enhances mission effectiveness through the ability to accurately engage and eliminate ground, aerial, static or moving targets during both day and night operations.

Designed to help military and law enforcement professionals swiftly and accurately neutralize their targets, the company’s combat-proven SMASH Family of Fire Control Systems increase assault rifle lethality while keeping friendly forces safe and reducing collateral damage. With a unique technology that makes it possible for every battlefield element to be connected with every other battlefield element, SMASH creates a micro-tactical network that dramatically enhances real-time situational awareness and ensures that the entire platoon shares a common operational picture.

The company’s experienced team of engineers combine electro-optics, computer vision technologies, real-time embedded software, ergonomics, and system engineering to provide cost-effective and easy-to-use solutions for modern conflicts. 

Fielded and operational, Smart Shooter SMASH family of solutions provides end-users with a “One Shot – One Hit” capability across multiple mission areas, creating a significant advantage for the infantry soldier and ultimately revolutionizing the world of small arms and optics.

SMART SHOOTER’s headquarters are based in Yagur, Israel, and its American subsidiary, Smart Shooter Inc., is located in Virginia. Smart Shooter also has offices in Düsseldorf, Germany, and in Canberra, Australia. 

Robotican demonstrates autonomous interceptor drone to the DoD

Israeli drone manufacturer Robotican has has successfully conducted an autonomous drone interception demonstration for the U.S. Department of Defense Irregular Warfare Technical Support Directorate (IWTSD), which one of its missions is to identify capabilities and technologies to struggle against irregular threats.

Main goal of the demonstration was to test Goshawk’s ability to capture hostile drones penetrated into a no-fly zone. After identifying the target by the Radar systems, Goshawk autonomously performs its mission – from launch to landing. Complex scenarios were also examined at this demonstration, to include chasing hostile drone and challenging head-on engagement. Robotican says that its Goshawk has successfully withstood the missions and was able to capture the hostile drones and to deliver them to a predefined area for safe disposal – with no collateral damage.

Goshawk is an autonomous drone, able to capture hostile drones through designated net. Goshawk interfaces with existing aerial defense systems and launches toward a target drone from the Smart NEST launch pad composed of two drone trappers. As opposed to other solutions, like weapon interception or GPS signal disruption, Goshawk captures and carries the drone intact. After capturing the hostile drone in the net, it is delivered to a safe area, preventing collateral damage that may be caused by potential drone falling, and also provides the ability to investigate the enemy’s drone. According to Robotican, Goshawk performed around 680 documented aerial interceptions of drones.    

Seeing the increasing use of drones by hostile groups, as the few weeks ago attack on a merchant ship in Oman bay, the American Department of Defense set the struggle against drones’ threat higher in its priority list. Nowadays, it formulates a comprehensive defense plan from drones and C-sUAS, based on various detection and interception technologies in complex scenarios. In last January the DoD announced new strategy which calls for risk-based assessments and viewing counter-sUAS defense from a joint perspective to rapidly track, defend and defeat drone attacks. Part of this strategy is the procurement and integration of various tools to cope with the drones’ threat, also evaluating that the next years’ budgets for this purpose will increased. Past publications mentioned that Israeli technologies are being examined as part of in these efforts.           

 

SMART SHOOTER won Individual Weapon Overmatch Optic (IWOO) project

In February 2020, the US Department of Defense’ Irregular Warfare Technical Support Directorate (IWTSD) selected SMART SHOOTER, a world-class designer, developer, and manufacturer of innovative fire control systems, to develop the solution for its Individual Weapon Overmatch Optic (IWOO) project.

Last November, SMART SHOOTER reached an important milestone in successfully completing the IWOO Critical Design Review.  This means the IWOO design has been approved by IWTSD and will now move to prototype production with delivery of the first functional system next Fall.

The IWOO program was initiated by IWTSD to provide tactical operators overmatch capability against long range static and moving targets, both day and night. SMART SHOOTER won the competition and began development using proven technologies from its SMASH line of Fire Control optics and inserting new capabilities such as a variable x1- x8 zoom – all stitched together with combat-proven fire control algorithms to assure the hit.

The IWOO system automatically detects, highlights, and tracks potential targets – including drones – using a see-through display which enhances the user situational awareness. Built-in fire control processing continuously calculates the optimal firing solution to provide the user with clear, discreet guidance, firing only with the best chance of neutralizing the target, delivering first-round hit capabilities time after time.

“We value this important opportunity to partner with IWTSD to develop the IWOO system, and are honored to provide operators with an unmatched optic capability against modern threats and the types of terrorist attacks that we are increasingly seeing on streets and battlefields around the world” Ms. Michal Mor, CEO of SMART SHOOTER said.

“We are very pleased with the progress SMART SHOOTER has made with the IWOO design” said Michael Trexler, Special Operation Forces Combat Support Coordinator / Program Manager, at IWTSD.  “We look forward to conducting operational testing and evaluation using the dual-capabilities of IWOO prototypes in 2021 against ground targets at increased ranges and to take-down drones.”

one shot – one hit

SMART SHOOTER is a world-class designer, developer, and manufacturer of innovative fire control systems that significantly increase the accuracy and lethality of small arms. With a rich record in designing unique solutions for the warfighter, SMART SHOOTER technology enhances mission effectiveness through the ability to accurately engage and eliminate ground, aerial, static or moving targets during both day and night operations.

Designed to help military and law enforcement professionals swiftly and accurately neutralize their targets, the company’s combat-proven SMASH Family of Fire Control Systems increase assault rifle lethality while keeping friendly forces safe and reducing collateral damage. With a unique technology that makes it possible for every battlefield element to be connected with every other battlefield element, SMASH creates a micro-tactical network that dramatically enhances real-time situational awareness and ensures that the entire platoon shares a common operational picture.

The company’s experienced team of engineers combine electro-optics, computer vision technologies, real-time embedded software, ergonomics, and system engineering to provide cost-effective and easy-to-use solutions for modern conflicts.

Fielded and operational, Smart Shooter SMASH family of solutions provides end-users with a “One Shot – One Hit” capability across multiple mission areas, creating a significant advantage for the infantry soldier and ultimately revolutionizing the world of small arms and optics.

US and The Netherlands exemine Automatic Sight

Above: A Dutch soldier during the drills. Source: Dutch Ministry of Defence

The US Army and the Royal Netherlands Army recently conducted live trainings examining the Smash 2000 Fire Control System of Smart Shooter from Kibbutz Yagur (near Haifa). The system is mounted on small arms, and zeroes in on the target using AI-based image processing to assist the soldier to shoot more accurately. The US Army tested the system by firing on ground targets, while the Dutch army tested its drone-interception capabilities using small arms. Both armies characterized the exercises as successful.

The Dutch exercise was carried out at a military facility in the town of Harde (Netherlands), with the participation of combat soldiers from the air force, navy, and the special forces. As part of the exercise, they were equipped with Colt rifles which were outfitted with Smart Shooter’s Fire Control System, in order to test whether it allows infantry soldiers to eliminate low flying drones using their personal weapons.

The soldiers fired at drones of various types and sizes from a distance of up to 165 yards. The company stated that all targets were eliminated. The Dutch Ministry of Defence has also issued an official announcement about the experiment, seemingly hinting at the strategic importance it assigns to the system. Smart Shooter estimated that the success of the two trials constitutes a significant milestone in introducing the solution to the world’s leading armies.

Small arms take down a drone

Dr. Abraham Mazor, VP of Marketing and Development at Smart Shooter, told Techtime that the exercise is the result of four years of working together with the Dutch army. “The Dutch army has examined the functioning of the system in its operational scenarios and in accordance with the threats it faces. The exercise was defined as a success according to the criteria they set. I believe it will lead to the acquisition of the system”. According to Mazor, “The simplicity of the system stood out no less than its accuracy. The soldiers arrived without prior experience, and after a short instruction of several minutes were able to take down drones.”

Drones that were shot with small arms equipped with Smart Shooter’s Fire Control System
Drones that were shot with small arms equipped with Smart Shooter’s Fire Control System

Drone interception using small arms is one of the key scenarios which interest armies around the world. Recently, the US Department of Defense (DoD) incorporated the system in the Counter Small Unmanned Aerial Systems (C-sUAS) program. Mazor: “Our system provides a response to this new kind of threat. There are many systems that know how to take care of drones. However, there is no system that allows a soldier to independently intercept a drone without supporting systems such as a remote radar.”

“The existing systems are based on disrupting drones by electronic means. In the future, drones will be autonomous, without a communication unit or GPS, and in a formation of a drone fleet, and therefore electronic warfare will be less effective. Militaries understand that, and some are considering the possibility that in every combat platoon there will be a trained soldier who can intercept drones.”

The rifle ceases to be a “Statistical Weapon”

Smart Shooter was founded by two former members of Rafael’s missile division, CEO Michal Mor and CTO Avshalom Erlich. It has developed the Smash Fire Control System to be mounted on top of every assault rifle using a rail. The system zeroes in on the target using electro-optical sensors and monitors it using AI-based image processing algorithm.

SMASH 2000 Fire Control System on top of an assault rifle
SMASH 2000 Fire Control System on top of an assault rifle

An automatic tracking allows the soldier to aim effortlessly, and when the weapon is positioned at the right angle – the trigger is released automatically. Mazor: “Smart Fire Control Systems will become an integral element in all modern combat perceptions. The rifle cannot continue to remain a statistical weapon. We upgrade the level of infantrymen to the world of missiles: at the technological level, in the perception, and in production and assembly.”

Jumping targets within 440 yards

The exercise conducted by the United States Army took place during September 14-24 at the APG training facility in Aberdeen, Maryland. During the exercise, the soldiers were equipped with assault rifles which were outfitted with Smart Shooter’s Fire Control System and fired thousands of magazines at stationary, moving, and jumping targets at ranges of 25-440 yards. At the end of the exercise, the accuracy rates were compared to those typical of using standard sights.

The exercise was funded and supervised by the Army Combat Capabilities Development Command. Smart Shooter is currently active in about 15 countries, mostly through subsidiaries or local representatives (in the US and Germany), as well as through collaborations with security contractors such as Thales in Australia, TBM in the Netherlands, and Opto S&D of the Akaer Group in Brazil. “We are in the midst of a very extensive marketing activity, which includes demonstrations and procurements.”

US Army to deploy Interceptor Drone Developed in cooperation with Israel MoD

The U.S. Department of Defense decided to launch an operational pilot program for the testing and validating of the Sparrowhawk drone system’s capabilities in the defense of U.S. Special Forces. As part of the pilot program, several dozen Sparrowhawk systems will be employed by U.S. troops.

The system has been developed during the last year in cooperation between the Directorate of Defense Research and Development in the Israel Ministry of Defense, the drone developer, XTEND, and the Combating Terrorism Technical Support Office (CTTSO), of the U.S. Department of Defense.

Using an AR device and single-handed controller, a military operator may employ the Sparrowhawk system to control the drone and perform complex tasks remotely. Its interface enables the operator to immerse themselves or “step into” a remote reality and engage targets effectively yet safely. The system’s capabilities have been demonstrated in Israel. It is a combat proven solution with more than 2,500 confirmed interceptions of incendiary devices flown over the Gaza border by terrorist organizations.

Aviv Shapira, XTEND CEO, said that Sparrowhawk is one of the world’s most advanced C-UAS Hard Kill solution. The system is based on the company’s Skylord platform, which consists of sensors on board the drone, camera, intuitive remote control unit, dedicates SoC, and XTEND’s own Drone Operating System (now in patent application process). Founded in 2018, the people behind XTEND are founders and veterans of Replay Technologies, acquired by Intel in 2016 and is now the corner stone of Intel Sports Group.

Skylord system under tests in the US Army
Skylord system under tests in the US Army