A Ben-Gurion University of the Negev laser expert has developed a laser-based defense system, dubbed Light Blade (Lahav-Or in Hebrew), that will be able to down the next generation of attack drones. He and his colleagues from industry have formed OptiDefense to develop and commercialize the system.
The university spokesperson says that a simpler model operated by Israel's Border Police and paired with Elbit’s SupervisIR threat detection system had great success last month in downing explosive balloons coming over the border from the Gaza Strip.
Attack drones are becoming increasingly common threats. Current drones must still maintain some communication link - either to their handler or to GPS - and therefore electronic jamming systems can exploit that weakness. This is known as a "soft kill". Future attack drones, however, will be completely autonomous, navigating via onboard sensors and cameras, without any sort of exploitable communication link. In order to neutralize them before they reach their target, a "hard kill" option is needed to physically target and shoot down the drone.
Prof. Amiel Ishaaya of BGU's School of Electrical and Computer Engineering in the Faculty of Engineering Sciences is an expert on lasers. He and two friends from the industry developed a system with enthusiastic support and funding from Border Police Commander Yaakov (Kobi) Shabtai. The system's main advantage is that it can be used in urban environments.
"In order to operate most high-powered laser defense systems, the airspace needs to be cleared for many kilometers around so that the laser will not accidentally blind anyone. Our system operates on a lower frequency which makes it safe for urban environments. Airports, for example, could station our systems to provide complete coverage without endangering any pilots or passengers," says Prof. Ishaaya.
Other potential applications include defending public events such as concerts or speeches. The system has a range of several kilometers.
OptiDefense was founded by Prof. Ishaaya, Dr. Udi Ben-Ami and Dr. Rami Aharoni. The company currently seeks investments to facilitate future development.
Published by Globes, Israel business news - en.globes.co.il - on March 5, 2020
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