Robots and remote-controlled vehicles are invaluable assets on modern battlefields, allowing soldiers to handle threats from a distance. These are some of the robots modified by the Ground Force’s Technological Division and used by Yahalom (Hebrew: ‘Jewel’), the elite force of the IDF’s Combat Engineering Corps:
1) The EyeDrive:
The EyeDrive is an all-terrain, all-weather surveillance robot developed by ODF Optronics, specially designed for urban warfare, anti-terror and search-and-rescue missions. It doesn’t break. Ever.
The EyeDrive can simply be thrown into buildings or dropped from the height of three meters without any damage. Day-and-night cameras supply the operator with a realtime 360 degree field of vision that can even tilt and zoom. Its special Video Motion Detection (VMD) software provides automatic alerts based on movement or sound detected by the EyeDrive’s sensors.
With the EyeDrive on their side, soldiers can gather all the necessary intelligence to make quick, on-site decisions that guarantee the success of a mission.
Read about the EyeBall, the EyeDrive’s little brother.
2) The Talon
One of the fastest robots in service, the Talon has amphibious capabilities that allow it to maneuver through sand, water, and snow, as well as climb stairs and remain waterproof at 100 meters below water. In a word: indestructible.
Its four cameras transmit in black/white, color, infrared and night-vision to an operator up to 1,000 meters away – which means it can operate 24 hours, day or night. Armed with a two-stage gripper arm, two-way communications and NBC (nuclear/biological/chemical) sensors, the Talon is the long arm soldiers need to extend–anywhere, anytime.
Locally, it allows IDF soldiers to perfect the art of bomb evacuation and disposal. Over 100,000 missions in Iraq and Afghanistan proved the Talon’s abilities before it was brought to Israel.
3) The ANDROS Wolverine
ANDROS is a series of military robots developed by REMOTEC, with the Wolverine being the biggest and toughest of the family. Weighing in at over 350 kilos, this all-terrain, heavy-duty robot is the workhorse of the IDF for neutralizing explosives.
In over 15 years of service, the Wolverine has proven itself to be more than capable. It comes equipped with a maneuverable arm, a color surveillance camera with 26x zoom and the option of switching between a wheel or track system, allowing it to operate in even the most extreme environments, such as swamps or snow.
Exploring smuggling tunnels is one of the most dangerous tasks that Yahalom is faced with. Tunnels are usually narrow and unstable, thus too risky for K-9 units to be sent in.
To counter this problem, Elbit developed the AGAMIT. The AGAMIT is not a robot by itself but a system that can be equipped to many robotic devices. It maps the tunnel using a combination of cameras and lasers as the host robot moves through it. All information is transmitted to the operator in real-time, giving him a full picture of the situation below. The AGAMIT even has self-navigation capabilities in case the communication between the system and the operator is lost, so that the host robot can find its way out again. In short: the best compass you’ll ever need.
If you’ve ever been in a farm, this system might seem familiar. The Caterpillar MiniCat was originally designed as a bulldozer for the agricultural industry. But when the Israel Aerospace Industries got their hands on one of these, they turned it into a fully remote-controlled Combat Engineering tool.
With the specially designed touch-screen remote control, the operator can accomplish a variety of complex tasks from a safe distance. The MiniCat can perform both automated and semi-autonomous functions, and is mainly in use at the security fence in Gaza to neutralize threats posed by IEDs planted near the fence.
More than any robot, the soldiers are the IDF’s biggest asset–and with these tools by their side, they’re safe in situations which would otherwise be dangerous or even deadly.