from the May 2012 issue

IAI unveils Rex infantry robot

Rex is designed as the robotic replacement of the llamas that accompanied IDF troops during the 2006 Second Lebanon War.

Israel Aerospace Industries Ltd. (IAI) (TASE: ARSP.B1) today unveiled at the Association for Unmanned Vehicle Systems International (AUVSI) conference in Tel Aviv a device that could be the infantryman's best friend. Meet Rex - a robot that follows infantrymen on the march, responds to commands given by remote control, carries equipment, food, and munitions, and can extricate wounded soldiers from the field. Rex is designed as the robotic replacement of the llamas that accompanied IDF troops during the 2006 Second Lebanon War. In contrast to the llamas, Rex is not supposed to panic under fire, and there is no need to feed and water it on the battlefield. IAI military robotics program head Paz Meidan said, "The llamas should be praised. They provided a creative solution to the problem of soldiers carrying huge quantities of personal equipment over long distances. Whereas in World War II, an infantryman crossing the Normandy beaches carried an average of 15 kilograms of equipment, the average infantryman now carries almost triple that load." Rex weighs 200 kilograms, and can carry up to 250 kilograms of equipment, which can be loaded and unloaded quickly. It has a 170-cubic centimeter gasoline engine, and can travel at up to 15 km/h, to move at the speed of infantrymen in field conditions. "This was a huge challenge for us," says Meidan. "To make it possible for the vehicle to know to move so slowly, we had to invest in our own development, because all developments in the field to date were directed towards faster speeds to get from one point to another as fast as possible."

Rex operates well in the field
Meidan's team defined a series of demands for a vehicle that was designed to accompany infantrymen. It had to be long enough to carry a stretcher for evacuating one wounded soldier, narrow enough to go through a standard door or move down a narrow alley, low enough to be carried by a Blackhawk helicopter, and be able move and function well in difficult terrain.

IAI's engineers solved Rex's problem to get over obstacles by making it easy to unload by two or three soldiers, who can then lift it over the obstacle.

"One infantryman will use a remote, which is half the size of a smartphone, to drive Rex. The remote has five buttons: speed; GPS sensors to set the distance to keep from the unit from three to 100 meters; and an optical monitor installed on Rex. "These systems enable Rex to follow the leader," says Meidan.

Robot, spruce up your appearance!
In addition to being the ultimate porter to carry rockets, grenades, and rations for IDF Golani Brigade infantrymen in the next war, IAI is already thinking about other applications for Rex. The same platform can be used to carry state-of-the-art systems for real-time intelligence gathering and analysis for troops operating in the field; or one Rex can be defined as a mobile generator to recharge batteries and electronics used by the troops, such as unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) command and control systems. Meidan says that a scenario in which one soldier is made responsible for several robots and their various functions is reasonable.

Reprinted from the Israel High-Tech & Investment Report May 2012

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