WASHINGTON — Israel Aerospace Industries will debut REX MK II, its newest ground robot set to be fielded to British troops, at DSEI, the London-based defense exhibition, which begins Tuesday.
IAI signed a contract with the UK in the second quarter of the calendar year and has sold the vehicle to other European countries, Rani Avni, IAI’s deputy general manager for robotics and autonomous systems, told Defense News in a Sept. 12 interview ahead of the show. He declined to identify the other countries.
The light unmanned ground vehicle draws on IAI’s previous experience building robotic vehicles, he said.
REX can perform a range of missions and offers improved maneuverability with all-wheel drive, the ability to climb obstacles, significant endurance and a large payload capacity of 1.3 tons, Avni said.
The hybrid-electric vehicle is capable of “silent watch,” meaning it can perform certain missions without running an engine that would allow for easy detectability by enemy forces.
The robot is also able to operate on land or amphibiously and can perform autonomous missions or be controlled by a single operator remotely.
The robot is designed to support infantry and special forces, whether focused on intelligence gathering, logistical support or remote attacks, Avni said.
With REX’s payload, it can carry a large amount of food, water, munitions, medical equipment or other supplies and could help evacuate injured personnel on stretchers, he noted.
REX comes equipped with a system of electro-optical sensors and radar that give it the ability to perform surveillance and reconnaissance for units at the tactical edge and can be armed with weapons like a 7.62mm machine gun and a .50 caliber heavy machine gun.
With a deep pool of competitors worldwide developing light robotic combat vehicles, Avni said IAI is using artificial intelligence to stand out.
“We are utilizing a lot of technology inside based on artificial intelligence technologies and software … that enable us to bring better performance, reducing the involvement of the user,” he said. “I think we are quite advanced in this field as well.”
IAI’s REX is preceded by the company’s Jaguar, a UGV designed for defending borders, gathering intelligence and carrying out attacks; RobARC, a robot that can find and destroy ground-level and subterranean explosive devices; Robattle, which is designed to keep up with maneuver units and perform convoy protection and armed reconnaissance-type missions; and the RobDozer, a robotic bulldozer capable of carrying out complex engineering in dangerous environments.
IAI anticipates a number of other European countries will be interested in REX as they begin robotics programs aimed at supporting infantry forces, Avni said.
In a statement, Zvika Yarom, IAI’s general manager for the land division, said the “system is based on harnessing our decades long experience with UAVs, to implement in the world of land vehicles.”
“IAI’s unmanned land platforms are in use operating along Israel’s borders and in different fighting units as well as in other locations around the world,” he said. “We are experiencing a rise in demand from clients for unmanned land platforms.”
Jen Judson is an award-winning journalist covering land warfare for Defense News. She has also worked for Politico and Inside Defense. She holds a Master of Science degree in journalism from Boston University and a Bachelor of Arts degree from Kenyon College.