JERUSALEM – Elbit Systems and Roboteam in Israel have announced “Rook,” a new unmanned ground vehicle.

With six wheels, the vehicle is the latest UGV to enter the marketplace. The companies say Rook is a multi-payload military vehicle that features “unique design and built-in autonomy suite offering a combination of greater capacity, improved maneuverability and must-have on-field agility that are key for greater mission effectiveness.”

The Rook UGV was developed based on the operational experience accumulated through fielding of the 4x4 Probot vehicle, the companies said. That system is already being used in France, the UK, Israel and the United States. Roboteam also has contracts in Norway, Italy and Thailand.

Israel uses unmanned ground vehicles with its IDF Gaza Division. One of the UGVs in service with the IDF is called Jaguar and is semi-autonomous and was developed by the IDF and Israel Aerospace Industries. IAI and Marlborough in the U.K. partnered to deliver several UGVs to the UK Defense Ministry earlier this year. The Probot has been seen in use with Israel’s new IDF Multi-Dimensional Unit.

Elad Levy, CEO and founder of Roboteam, says there are “tens of systems” deployed with IDF. Roboteam was founded in 2009 and found success in the United States with its Micro Tactical Ground Robot through the Pentagon’s Combatting Terrorism Technical Support Office (CTTSO). He says more than 130 of the systems were deployed with U.S. forces and a contract was done with the U.S. Air Force.

Elbit has said that UGVs “provide a comprehensive operational solution that reduces casualties and facilitates long-term personnel reductions.” The companies said in a statement on Nov. 16 that Rook was designed from scratch as a robotic UGV platform in compliance with applicable military standards. It applies a modular structure so that there is no need for original manufacturer lab maintenance.

The new UGV will weigh 1,200 kg and can carry the same weight in cargo. It has 24 cm of clearance so it can navigate rocks and hills and other types of terrain. This is larger and provides more payload than some previous systems. The companies say it has “full compliance with the UGV Interoperability Profile (IOP) [which] turns Rook into a multi-payload platform providing users with seamless plug and play payload integration.

It has 8 hours of drive time and can reach speeds of 30 km an hour. The integrated Torch X application can mean that an operator could control several unmanned systems, such as Rook as well as aerial drones. Levy also told The Jerusalem Post that the UGV could act as a “mothership” of unmanned vehicles.

Photos released by Elbit and Roboteam show the Rook vehicle performing tasks such as accompanying soldiers and carrying electro-optic payloads, as well as carrying a wounded soldier. It can also carry a mounted gun and gear, as well as carrying a quadcopter drone.

Seth Frantzman has been covering conflict in the Middle East since 2010 as a researcher, analyst and correspondent for different publications. He has experience covering the international coalition against the Islamic State group in Iraq and Syria, and he is a co-founder and executive director of the Middle East Center for Reporting and Analysis.

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