Tampa, Florida — The new age of land warfare, any warfare actually is becoming robotic, just entering the exposition hall of the 2017 Special Operations Industry Conference (SOFIC) and that becomes very apparent as the subtle “whirr and clicks” of various UGV’s can he heard over the hum of humanity walking the hall. The demand for robust, nearly indestructible high-tech solutions for Special Operations needing real-time threat intelligence on targets without putting them in danger is driving Special Operations to unmanned ground vehicles, or UGV’s. UGV’s, like their aerial cousins are becoming an in demand “tool in the tool-box” adjunct to war fighters looking to glean an edge on the battlefield. One such company hoping to spearhead the robotics movement into Special Operations in Endeavor Robotics.
Endeavor Robotics based out of Chelmsford, Massachusetts is considered one of the largest independent supplier of UGV’s to customers worldwide. Endeavor which started out as the Defense & Security division for the robotics company known as iRobot, which brought the robotic disc-shaped vacuum machine known as the Roomba. Branched away, became a stand-alone robotics company and began focusing exclusively on producing UGV’s for defense, public safety, and industrial markets in the fall of 2016.
Since then Endeavor Robotics UGV’s have seen combat and various battlefields throughout the Global War on Terror (GWOT) with up to 6,000 of its tactical UGV’s being deployed. SOFREP was able to meet with Endeavor spokespersons, David Miller and Joseph Smith for a demonstration of its latest offerings to the commandos of Special Operations.
First thing that caught my eye was a small highly mobile UGV known as the 110 FirstLook. The lightweight robot no bigger than a 1/4 scale radio-controlled car looked built for punishment. 110 FirstLook is a throwable, rugged, and expandable robot that provides immediate situational awareness, performs persistent observation and investigates dangerous and hazardous material while keeping its operator out of harm’s way. “The 110 is a 5lb lightweight device that operators can throw over walls or into a sewer pipes.” explains Miller; “There are already about 200 forward deployed with MARSOC units in Afghanistan.”
The 110 is controlled via a robust, rugged touchscreen control tablet called the Upoint. The Android operating system based tablet is very intuitive and extremely easy to operate the UGV linked to the internal MESH network that facilitates the interaction between the device and the operator.
Endeavor Robotics brought 3 other UGV’s of various sized, the larger KOBRA 710 is designed to provide base or outpost security as well as carrying extra payload needed by the SOF team with just swapping out the “Johnny 5” like upper torso. However, coming from a direct action background the 110 FirstLook is by far the most promising option in regards to a light-weight highly efficient target reconnaissance device to facilitate a fully developed target picture to maximize the SOF commandos degree of success as well as minimizing loss of life.
Feature image courtesy of the author