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IDF Wants Robot Strike Force

Robots to lead the way in the first stage of engagement, in which there is usually a greater danger of casualties.
By Gil Ronen
First Publish: 8/28/2011, 9:04 PM

IDF battle lore reserves a special place for the call "Acharai!" – "follow me!" – uttered by commanders who lead their soldiers on a charge into enemy positions. If Israeli military technology firms succeed in meeting the IDF's latest challenge, though, the exclamation may soon be uttered by robots.

According to the IsraelDefense website, Israeli defense companies are competing for the nod to develop a robot-based combat solution dubbed "Advance Guard,” which the IDF ground forces are keenly interested in.

"The basic idea is for robots to function as a strike force, leading the way in the first stage of engagement with the enemy, in which there is usually a greater danger of casualties," the website explained. "The defense establishment wants the industries to examine a range of possible robotic forms on the battlefield, from micro-robots to large unmanned vehicles. An essential feature of the program is that the robots will be capable of interacting with each other and not only as individual warriors." 

Brigadier General (ret.) Shmuel Yachin, former director of R&D in the IDF, told IsraelDefense that Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI) is reviewing different types of robot designs, including "see-fire" systems that can identify a target in the field and zero in on it.

One of the firms competing for the job of supplying the IDF with robot warriors may invest in the development of an unmanned tank.

Robotic tools are already employed in surveillance, including unmanned ground vehicles like "Guardium," produced by a company jointly owned and run by IAI and Elbit Systems. In the past, the IDF revealed a robotic snake that can be used for infiltration of targets.