As “fire kites” and flaming helium balloons continue to plague Israeli communities along the Gaza border, Israeli entrepreneurs have been working feverishly to solve the problem using the latest technology.
Hundreds of fires from the kites have devastated agricultural fields, wildlife and nature reserves on the Israeli side of the border, causing damage estimated in the millions of shekels. This week, an incendiary balloon landed in an Israeli preschool yard while children played outside, putting increased pressure on the IDF to stop the fires.
Entering the fray is a new autonomous drone system from Beersheva-based RoboTiCan,that uses optic sensors to identify the launch of airborne arson devices.
Once identified, the RoboTiCan system, called GOSHAWK (a goshawk is a bird of prey), launches a separate drone to neutralize the fire kite. The entire process is handled without human intervention.
Israel’s Hadashot news reported this week that the GOSHAWK system has been deployed in the field in recent weeks and has already “seen some success.”
GOSHAWK was meant to counter threats by drones, the type that have come over the Syrian border. But it works for the fire kites just as well.
ISRAEL21c profiled RoboTiCan last year when it launched the Rooster, a search-and-rescue robot that can fly and walk, making it suitable to reach victims of natural disasters where it’s not safe to send a human rescue worker. Multiple Roosters can communicate through their own wireless mesh network and with the rescue headquarters.
The GOSHAWK can’t walk like the Rooster, but in flight it has many of the same sensors and cameras that RoboTiCan has been perfecting with its other drones and devices.
In addition, ISRAEL21c reported last month on another technology to counter the fire kites – Sky Spotter from Rafael Advanced Defense System.
Like GOSHAWK, it was developed originally to counter small drones. Sky Spotter tracks where a fire kite or balloon is most likely to land. Sky Spotter than sends this information to firefighters so they can get a head start at dousing the flames.
The IDF also reported that it is testing a laser system to shoot the flying firebombs out of the sky.