Israel’s Next-Generation Robots Could Replace Ground Troops At The Front

“If you want to send robots where you don’t want to send soldiers, you need a solution for that,” said Elad Levy, CEO and founder of ROBOTEAM.

His company, along with Elbit Systems, announced Tuesday the debut of what they call “the mothership of unmanned vehicles”: ROOK, a military 6X6 multiple payload unmanned ground vehicle (UGV).

UGV’s innovative design and built-in autonomy suite offer improved capacity, maneuverability and agility from its previous models, creating “a human machine” that is “really part of the team,” said Yoav Poizner, senior director, Elbit C4I and Cyber. .

He said ROOK is the next step in allowing “everything that happens in the sky” through the use of drones and aerial robots to happen on the ground and in the field where soldiers need it too.

Elbit’s new Rook unmanned ground vehicle, demonstrating medical evacuation capabilities. (credit: ELBIT)

The ROOK was developed based on the operational experience accumulated through the deployment of the PROBOT UGV 4×4 systems, which came into operation a few years ago through a first collaboration between the two companies.

What makes ROOK more unique is that it started as a connected system, the teams said. “Since we built it from the first screw, we know how the robot works with the software,” Levy said.

“It has built-in autonomy and built-in artificial intelligence that provides a complete solution. Without that level of sophistication, I wouldn’t want to depend on him on the field. “

The ROOK was designed from the ground up as a robotic UGV platform in accordance with applicable Military Standards, a statement explained. It has a modular box structure that allows components to be replaced by users in the field without support from the manufacturer.

Other features include a low center of gravity, essential for hauling heavy loads over rough terrain. The ROOK weighs 1,200 kilograms and can carry a payload equivalent to its own body weight. It is 24 centimeters above the ground and travels at a speed of up to 30 kilometers per hour.

    Elbit's new Rook unmanned ground vehicle is used as a drone platform.  (credit: ELBIT) Elbit’s new Rook unmanned ground vehicle is used as a drone platform. (credit: ELBIT)

The machine is fully compliant with the UGV Interoperability Profile (IOP) for seamless plug and play payload integration.

The battery weighs 40 kilograms and lasts up to eight hours. There is the option of carrying a spare battery or setting up an internal generator for longer missions.

ROOK is operated through the TORCH-X RAS app or by a ruggedized 7-inch all-weather display unit, allowing a single operator to control multiple unmanned systems.

The machine can navigate through the desert, snow or other rough terrain, and during sunlight or at night. Its sophisticated sensors can recognize soldiers and follow them in the field, allow you to drive off-road without tipping over, and give you the power to differentiate between grass, stone, and other roads to stay on course and avoid an accident. as if driven by a human.

The company expects the machine to be used to deliver supplies, function as a medical evacuation to remove victims from the field, participate in intelligence-gathering missions, including transporting and shipping drones, and serve as a remote weapons system.

    Elbit's new Rook unmanned ground vehicle carries supplies such as ammunition that would normally be carried on the back in infantry.  (credit: ELBIT) Elbit’s new Rook unmanned ground vehicle carries supplies such as ammunition that would normally be carried on the back in infantry. (credit: ELBIT)

“You can send the ROOK to places you don’t want to go,” Levy said.

ROBOTEAM was founded in 2009. Today, it has 40 employees working out of its headquarters in the United States and Israel. All of the employees were in the Israel Defense Forces or the US military, giving the company the ability to mix and match its engineering with the actual reality of the battlefield.

The venture, Levy said, began with a vision at her grandmother’s home. Roboteam landed its first major contract in 2012 when it supplied 100 man-carried robots to soldiers in Afghanistan, a deal worth $ 10 million. Since then, the company has expanded and now has robots in 20 countries around the world.

He has contracts in Norway, the UK, France, Italy, Thailand and elsewhere.

Roboteam and Elbit joined forces in mid-2019 with a commercial agreement that led to their PROBOT being put into operation. ROOK is their latest collaboration.

The machine will cost between $ 150,000 and $ 300,000, the company said, depending on configurations. TOOK is ready to go, Levy said, and some of his clients are already evaluating it. Over time, he believes there will be hundreds of thousands of ROOKs in the field.

What’s next? Collaboration between aerial and ground robots, he said, for example, deploying an aerial robot and a ground robot to photograph a certain area and then merge the images to get a complete perspective.

“There is no end to vision and imagination,” Levy said, “ROOK is just the first step. We are talking about a revolution ”.

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