Israeli Microbot Fires Pencil-Sized Rockets to Stop Bombs

Illustration for article titled Israeli Microbot Fires Pencil-Sized Rockets to Stop Bombs

This teeny little robot is the size of a toy truck - just 50 square inches. It'd be cute, almost, if it wasn't armed with "dozens" of eight-inch rockets.

The world's militaries have been gun-shy about letting armed robots roam around the battlefield; they're always a danger the machines will malfunction and ruin some pesky human's day. But Rafael, Israel's state-owned arms-maker, is betting that its miniature Pincher robot might be allowed into warzones as a tool for neutralizing roadside bombs.

According to Defense News' Barbara Opall-Rome each of the Pincher's micro-munitions is " a self-contained micro rocket with safety ignition, motor, warhead and safety fuse." The "pyrophoric warhead combusts once ignited to burn upon target penetration," which supposedly "eliminat[es] collateral damage often caused by traditional explosive systems."


"Instead of detona­tion, where the speed of the shockwave is ul­trasonic, we developed a special material that causes deflagration, where the speed of the shockwave is subsonic and does not cause sig­nificant damage," Rafael's Ram Fabian tells Opall-Rome.

The Pincher has a range of 100 feet, maybe. An onboard camera looks for bombs, and helps remote operators aim the pencil-missiles.

It's not Israel's first attempt at a tiny killer robot. In 2007, the Elbit corporation unveiled its 18-inch VIPeR ("Versatile, Intelligent, Portable Robot"), equipped with a "9 mm mini-Uzi." The machine never made much of a splash.

But rafael has high hopes for the Pincher. The Israel-focused military site Defense Update even suggests the ‘bot could be "used indoors to seek targets, locate and deactivate IEDs." Just make sure some kid doesn't pick it up and put it in his toybox afterward.


[Photo: Rafael via Defense Update]

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Since this is designed for destroying fixed objects why can't they just come up with a simple R/C vehicle with a camera which has the ability to simply drop a grenade and then drive off?

The operator can use the camera to look at whatever then just drop a grenade to destroy it if it's suspicious, after all, grenades are already designed to "deflagrate" and are pretty common on the battlefield I'm sure.

Each unit would be so cheap it wouldn't matter if they got blown up occasionally. You could even build the things with a simple toy truck, an RF camera and a servo to drop the grenades.