3 R&D consortia seek to boost self-driving, quantum and advanced materials tech

Israel is seeking to jump-start innovation in autonomous vehicles, quantum technologies and advanced materials by getting scientists and industry experts to  bring their best ideas out into the market.

To do this, the Israel Innovation Authority has approved the establishment of three research and development industry-academia consortia that will receive funding totaling NIS 150 million ($43 million) over three years.

The idea is to be prepared for a time when smart cars will start making their way to cities, manufacturing processes will increasingly use advanced materials, and  information channels will become both more difficult and expensive to secure, said Aviv Zeevi, head of the technological infrastructure division at the authority, in a statement.

The initiative seeks to anticipate “the technology that will fuel Israel’s growth engines in 5-7 years’ time,” he said.

The Andromeda Consortium, made up of industry giants including Israel Aerospace Industries and Elbit Systems as well as startups like Cognata, will work on developing ways to command and control autonomous vehicle fleets in urban and non-urban areas with computers, artificial intelligence technologies and human intervention, when necessary.

The Quantum communications consortium will aim to improve quantum encryption while cutting costs. The consortium will focus on research and development of quantum communication technologies across three categories: communication systems for server farms; transferring data from a single communication channel to a network; and developing a secure communication system for transmitting encryption keys.

Companies including Mellanox Techlonogies Ltd. and OpSys-Tech, a maker of Lidar and fiber-optics technology, will be part of this consortium. They will be joined by researchers from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, the Technion-Israel Institute of Technology, and other institutions.

The third, the Advanced Materials Processing Consortium, will seek to commercialize high-power laser technologies for the Israeli metals industry. This will allow more accurate and flexible operations for industrial purposes, the statement said.

The idea is make use of advances in the Israeli laser industry and in super-computers to design robots that are given specific tasks to perform “precision cutting and welding which could not previously be carried out in Israel,” said
Moshe Avrahami, director of the industrial sector and consortiums program at the authority.

The consortium includes university researchers who will work with companies and startups, including Plasan Sasa Ltd., Rafael Advanced Defense Systems, Israel Aerospace Industries, Bet Shemesh Engines, Israel Shipyards, Sivan Technologies and Ophir Optronics, the statement said.

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Written by Aakash Malu


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