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Israeli startup Roboteam Ltd snubbed the big competitors in the field – iRobot Corp, QinetiQ North America, and others – to land a US$25 million contract with the Pentagon, its second order for the US military in two years.
Roboteam designs and manufactures a small, portable, stair-climbing robot that can see around corners and detect booby traps. The robot, designed in Israel and manufactured in Bethesda, Maryland, is made to assist SWAT teams combat terrorists in city areas, as well as protect soldiers from improvised explosives in rural combat zones such Afghanistan and Iraq.
“All around the world, terrorism looks the same, whether it’s ISIS, or in Israel, France or Chechnya,” says Yosi Wolf, Roboteam’s co-founder and co-CEO. “Fighting terrorism is urban warfare where carrier ships and war planes are a lot less relevant. This is where special forces make the difference and these robots can be game-changers.”
The smallest robot, IRIS, weighs just 1.36 kg. It’s light enough to be thrown into a building, where it can capture and relay video surveillance to forces waiting to enter a potentially dangerous location.
PROBOT, the largest bot, weighs 230 kg and has a carrying capacity of 750 kg. With travel speeds of 8.5 km/h it can serve as an invaluable tool to assist patrols in carrying equipment.
“In the threats we face today, with these coordinated attacks like in Boston and in San Bernardino, equipment like Roboteam’s and others gives us a huge capability to assist in responding,” says Eric Gahagan, an officer with the Massachusetts police bomb squad that responded to the Boston Marathon Attack. “We can send a robot to take a peek at what might be suspicious,” he says.