We saw an article in Israel Occupation Archive Israeli Robots Remake Battlefield

Israel is developing an army of robotic fighting machines that offers a window onto the potential future of warfare… In 10 to 15 years, one-third of Israel’s military machines will be unmanned, predicts Giora Katz, vice president of Rafael Advanced Defense Systems Ltd., one of Israel’s leading weapons manufacturers.

IOA Editor: As covered in detail by Amira Hass and others, Israeli high technology warfare plays a lead role in spying on and killing Palestinians, most recently in Gaza, a development zone for Israel’s military industries.

We asked the Alternative Information Centre in Jerusalem for their help in discovering the role in developing these new generation weapons which will further insulate Israeli soldiers from awareness of the suffering they inflict.

Uri Yacobi Kelelr AIC sent us the following report:

I think it would be safe to say that while these drones are usually developed in the weapons’ companies themselves, many of the more sophisticated state-of-the-art parts are developed by engineering and computer science departments in three Israeli universities.

Firstly, these drones use very advanced electro-optics components to view their environment. I don’t know the exact ratio between university-developed and privately-developed components in these robots, but it is seems clear that the Technion near Haifa is very much involved in their development. There is a very close relationship between the Technion and two of Israel’s major weapons’ companies – mainly Elbit, which is not mentioned in the article you sent. The Technion had many instances of cooperation with Elbit and had even founded a joint electro-optics research center. This technology, by the way is not only for unmanned vehicles but is also important for missile guidance systems. The Technion also had a few instances of cooperation with Rafael – the company specifically mentioned in the article.

Tel Aviv University took pride of the fact that it had more than fifty instances of joint research with the army. Though I personally tend to believe that their part in the research was less central than the Technion’s and that they try to gain prestige by presenting it as if it’s bigger than it really is, that of course doesn’t clear them of anything and it’s quite clear that they too have a hand in military unmanned vehicle development.

The second important part of the development that happened in universities is the Artificial Intelligence research that took place in Bar Ilan University – again, the exact extent of the development from the university department compared to what was developed by the companies and the army is unknown, but I suspect that since Artificial Intelligence is such a complex subject, I think that the university’s part in this should not be underestimated in any way.

It is possible that other universities have contributed to the development of such unmanned drones, but took care not to publish it the way Tel Aviv University, Bar Ilan University and the Technion did, though not very likely – if there was some major cooperation the universities would have probably tried to push it forward to show how patriotic and connected to the high tech industry they are. It is more likely however that more discreet connections exist in the form of weapons’ companies sponsoring the thesis of specific students or university staff – it’s not like the universities have too much money to spend as it is.


Technion developing remote controlled house demolishing bulldozer

Technion developing another combat drone

Technion and weapons’ manufacturer Elbit open a joint Research center on Electro Optics

Technion training engineers specifically for Rafael

Technion students’ thesis of weapon development

Data about Tel Aviv is taken from the SOAS Palestine Society report

Tel Aviv U also had conventions in cooperation with weapon makers Elbit and Rafael there is also a second source for this

Bar Ilan developing AI for combat drones