GAITHERSBURG, Md. — Roboteam, an American-Israeli firm that makes small unmanned ground vehicles for the U.S. Department of Defense and other customers, is developing several new products, including a UGV that can fly short distances to get around obstacles.
Like the male chicken it is named after, Rooster can become airborne briefly through a motion that is more like jumping than full-fledged flying, said Shahar Abuhazira, Roboteam’s U.S.-based chief executive officer. Rooster consists of a six-rotor unmanned aerial vehicle mounted atop Roboteam’s existing, throwable Individual Robotic Intelligence System (IRIS) UGV.
“The whole idea with Rooster was to solve maneuverability problems in urban and subterranean environments,” Abuhazira told reporters Oct. 19 at a Roboteam facility here. “We found the need just to jump over obstacles to save a lot of time.”
Roboteam hopes to have Rooster ready for potential customers in nine to 12 months. “We are negotiating right now with several organizations in the U.S. DoD that want to take it in different directions,” Abuhazira added.
Other products in the pipeline include Rambot, an “attack” UGV that Abuhazira described as a “suicide IRIS,” and Tango, which the company is developing for the U.S. Air Force Civil Engineer Center to allow UAVs and UGVs to work together.
Roboteam is also competing or planning to compete for several U.S. military acquisition programs. For the Army’s Common Robotic System–Individual (CRS-I), Roboteam intends to offer a system based on its man-carried Micro Tactical Ground Robot (MTGR). Roboteam, which is partnering with DRS Technologies for CRS-I, expects the Army to issue a request for proposals in January or February and buy almost 4,100 systems
Roboteam plans to offer a new, undisclosed system for the Army’s Man Transportable Robotic System (MTRS) Increment 2 program, which could release an RFP as early as this week. The company also hopes to provide a chassis for the Navy’s Advanced Explosive Ordnance Disposal Robotic System (AEODRS) Increment 2 program, which issued an RFP about two weeks ago. MTRS and AEODRS Increment 2 are slated to buy a total of more than 1,900 systems.
For the Army’s Squad Multipurpose Equipment Transport (SMET), Roboteam will offer a vehicle based on its Professional Robot (Probot) cargo carrier. An RFP is due out in fiscal year 2018.
The company is gearing up to open a new research and development center next year to focus on rapidly developing products and upgrades for the U.S. military. Maryland is under strong consideration for the center, but the company is also looking outside the state.
“We are pushing systems to the field as soon as we can,” Abuhazira said. “We are not afraid of the feedback. We know sometimes it is not 100 percent ready, but when a soldier touches a system and gives you feedback, it can save you six months to a year of development and testing in the lab.”