In the world of modern warfare, innovation knows no bounds. Australian companies Black Sky Aerospace and Funnel Web Systems have recently unveiled a groundbreaking creation that promises to reshape the future of combat. Named “Funnel Web,” this remotely-operated portable unmanned ground vehicle (UGV) is not your typical robot. It’s armed, rugged, and designed to give soldiers a tactical edge while keeping them out of harm’s way.

Changing the Game

Robots have traditionally been used for a variety of purposes, including sensing, carrying loads, and intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance tasks. However, Funnel Web – aptly named after the deadly Australian spider – takes robotics to a whole new level by giving them “fangs,” as described by Black Sky’s CEO, Blake Nikolic. The primary goal of this innovation is to save lives by allowing soldiers to launch missiles from a safe distance, minimizing exposure to counter-battery fire.

“People think of robots as sensor platforms, load carriers, and for intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance tasks: but we give them fangs,” said Nikolic in a statement.

The concept behind Funnel Web is simple yet powerful. It can be deployed into areas that are either too risky or inaccessible for human soldiers. Once in position, it patiently waits for targets to reveal themselves, and when the time is right, it can remotely launch missiles tailored to the specific use case, geography, and desired effects.

“The Funnel Web can push into new areas and wait for targets to present, and then be command-launched remotely. The rockets themselves can be tailored to the intended use, geography and required effects,” Nikolic added.

Funnel Web UGV: Key Features

Funnel Web boasts a range of impressive features that set it apart from conventional UGVs. Its compact yet rugged design makes it highly mobile and easily deployable. Operators control it through a remotely operated hand-held device, allowing them to make real-time decisions about weapon launches based on video feedback from the UGV’s camera.

Funnel Web Systems
(Image source: Black Sky Aerospace)

Accordingly, the system is capable of firing 60mm by 900mm munitions, with the potential for developing variants that can handle different calibers, adding versatility to its arsenal.

A Potential Solution for Ukraine

As the ongoing conflict in Ukraine continues to evolve, the need for innovative solutions becomes increasingly evident. Ukrainian defense representatives have been closely monitoring the development of Funnel Web and are considering its deployment in the war-torn region. Funnel Web Systems’ head of systems engineering, Andre Preller, emphasized the importance of reacting swiftly to evolving threats and opportunities, citing the need for an innovation cycle that takes weeks rather than years—a capability that Funnel Web Systems excels at.