The Israeli military has begun training infantry units to use advanced robotic systems in urban warfare situations, Ynet reported on Sunday.
While the IDF’s Engineering Corps already employs surveillance robots to detect tunnels, this is the first time that a combat robot — called MTGR for “micro tactical ground robot” — will be used by the IDF’s infantry brigades on a large scale.
The MTGR travels on two tracks and has a microphone, five cameras that give it a 360 degree view, the ability to carry loads of up to ten pounds, and built-in batteries that power it for up to two hours. The MTGR is manufactured by Roboteam, an Israeli company founded by IDF veterans Yosi Wolf and Elad Levy.
According to Maj. Ehud, the head of the robotics department at the IDF’s technology division, the robots will help protect soldiers by “allowing friendly forces on the ground to know what is waiting around the corner and even further.”
“It operates alongside fighters and is capable of moving with them in the field, recording images day and night, listening, and provides important reconnaissance abilities in urban warfare,” he said. “This is not a cheap tool, as it costs tens of thousands of dollars, because of the advanced technology.”
“Operating robots on the ground is more complicated than say, an unmanned aircraft from afar, because on land there are more obstacles and uncertainties than there are in the sky,” Ehud explained. “As such, it is important to emphasize that this is a robot, but one that is operated by a man. The robot does not make decisions alone, and everything it does is directed by its human operator.”
“Before we go any further, we want to experiment first with this robot, get feedback from the soldiers using it, and gain experience operating and maintaining such tools in the field,” he added.
The IDF already placed orders for dozens of robots and introduced the MTGR in its counter-terror training school. The United States Army has also ordered 250 MTGR units, worth around $25 million, to help defuse explosives.
[Photo: Roboteam ]