An Israeli defence contractor on Monday unveiled an armed robot that is capable of patrolling the battle zones, track infiltrators and can even open fire when needed, reported AP. This new unmanned defence vehicle is the new entry in the world of drone technology, which is changing the way defence and nature of battlefields.
The four-wheel-drive robot presented is developed by the state-owned Israel Aerospace Industries’ “REX MKII."
According to Rani Avni, deputy head of the company’s autonomous systems division, the robot is operated by an electronic tablet and can be equipped with two machine guns, cameras and sensors.
The tablet can control the vehicle manually. But many of its functions, including its movement and surveillance system, can also run autonomously.
“With every mission, the device collects more data which it then learns from for future missions,” said Yonni Gedj, an operational expert in the company's robotics division.
The vehicle can help a country's defence front by safely receiving intelligence inputs for the ground troops, carrying injured soldiers and supplies in and out of the battlefield, and strike nearby targets.
The development has got mixed reactions from the experts as usual with pro defence critics calling this semi-autonomous machine a way to allow armies to protect their human soldiers however some critics fear this marks another dangerous step toward robots making life-or-death decisions.
So far, this robot is the most advanced among more than half a dozen unmanned vehicles that the Aerospace Industries' subsidiary, ELTA Systems developed over the past 15 years.
For the Israeli military, using such semi-autonomous robots is not an unprecedented approach. The force is already using a smaller but similar vehicle called the Jaguar, which is used to patrol the border with the highly conflicted Gaza Strip and help enforce a blockade Israel imposed in 2007 after the tiny territory was seized by the Islamic militant group Hamas.
The Israeli army has not yet responded to AP's request for a comment on the usage of Jaguar, and many other tools. These developments have given Israel a vast technological superiority over Hamas.
Meanwhile, it has been reported that the drone is being showcased at this week’s Defense and Security System International arms trade show in London.
(With inputs from AP)