Israeli drone company Xtend has announced that its drone operating system, supplied until now to military customers, is now available for integration into civilian drones. This step marks the expansion of the company’s activity, which has focused on the military market and worked extensively with the US army and the IDF towards civil applications, such as inspection missions, homeland security, rescue, firefighting, and more.
It was reported to Techtime that the operating system has already been integrated into the drone of an American agtech company, an Israeli drone company, and ground robots of an American defense company. According to Xtend, the operating system intensifies the drone’s capabilities and simplifies its operation, and provides the drone’s manufacturer with a competitive advantage.
The uniqueness of the operating system, which was used until now for military drones, is in that it provides the ability for everyone to efficiently operate the drone, even on complicated maneuvering missions, with short hours or days of training. In addition, the interface is based on gaming and VR technologies and gives the operator a sense of watching events through the eyes of the drone.
Thus, for instance, to command the drone to enter a building through a specific window or move out an explosive device, the operator is required to point the window in the building or mark towards the explosive device and order the operation. The IDF already uses this system and successfully intercepts thousands of incendiary balloons and kites in the Gaza Envelope. In addition, the company signed a contract last year for delivering more than 100 drones to the US Army, and it currently develops new solutions for the IDF and the US Ministry of Defense.
Drone’s apps store
One of the main civil fields targeted now by Xtend is the inspection field, such as aerial inspection of infrastructures and buildings. In a conversation with Techtime, CEO and co-founder Aviv Shapira explained that a human operator carries out most drone missions, and complete autonomy is a long way off.
“Autonomous drones perform only 10% of the inspection missions. Our solution was designed for any mission that requires a human being to make decisions in real-time, such as in an engineering inspection of bridges for detecting fractures and corrosion. Missions of this kind require the drone to maneuver in very dense spaces; currently, no autonomous drone can accomplish this mission. In general, in unknown environments, when real-time decisions are required, our system provides the operator with the capability of effortlessly operating, on premise or from anywhere in the world, even five drones and robots parallelly”.
Shapira: “Using our operating system, drones can be operated in complicated missions where the current interface is insufficient. In addition, drone manufacturers can develop designated applications, for example, for corrosion detection. It also makes it possible for them to enter new areas and offer their customers a variety of applications. It provides them with a competitive advantage”.
The drone as a Swiss knife
Xtend also owns a drone line branded Wolverine, mainly used for battlefield missions such as removing explosive loads, entering buildings, and leading troops. However, Xtend is primarily a software company, and its flagship product is the operating system.
According to the company, a drone should serve as a “Swiss Army knife”, capable of performing various activities based on switching payload (sensors, robotic arm, etc.) or installing new apps. This concept extends the basic drone’s capabilities beyond the manufacturer’s original specifications. The company’s operating system makes it possible for drone manufacturers and for developers to develop designated applications to be installed on drones in the same way it is done on a smartphone. To achieve this, the company provides the developers with their proprietary SDK.
Xtend Company, headquartered in Tel Aviv, was founded in 2018 by brothers Aviv and Matteo Shapira. The brothers are also co-founders of Replay Technologies, the developer of FreeD system, which allows viewers to see and experience real-life scenes through immersive camera views at sports events. In 2016 it was purchased by Intel and was the basis for the Intel Sports Group.