Effectively maintaining a nation's borders requires manpower, and lots of it—especially when that nation is on bad terms with its neighbor. But rather than put its military personnel in undue danger, both Israel and South Korea have begun using this autonomous ground vehicle to secure their borders.
It's called the AMSTAF. Built by Israel's Automotive Robotic Industry Ltd. (ARI) but based on the existing ARGO 6×6 vehicle from ODG, the amphibious AMSTAF measures 8 feet long and nearly 5 feet wide. Its six wheels are powered by a pair of silent hybrid electric engines (one for each side) that produce enough current to propel the vehicle up 45 degree slopes, nearly 30 mph on flat ground and 2.5 mph through water, while carrying 770 pounds of equipment and towing an additional 1100. What's more, the vehicle's low pressure tires prevent it from setting off IEDs and antipersonnel mines, despite weighing nearly a ton unladen.
The AMSTAF's real value, however, lies in its versatility. It can be commanded remotely from up to eight miles away or be programmed for autonomous operation before setting out. It can run for a full day before refueling. When patrolling, the UGV is designed to automatically detect, identify, and engage threats—either individually or attacking in autonomous "flocks"—in any weather condition.
The platform can also be utilized for a variety of other tasks like riot control, EOD and bomb disposal, hostage negotiations, and even special forces operations depending on its equipment loadout—which range from LTL devices like Tasers, arresting nets, and tear gas canisters to a computer-stabilized 7.62 mm machine gun. It can even be used as a mechanical pack mule supporting foot patrols and can be ordered around using voice commands spoken into a wrist-worn controller.
"AMSTAF provides an effective and versatile autonomous platform that can assume different roles in support of military and special operations units" Amos Goren, founder of ARI, told Defense Update. "Fitted with a remote weapon system and sensors, it can be used as an unmanned forward watch or pathfinder, replacing today's manned vehicles and scouts. The same platform can be reconfigured in the field to carry supplies supporting dismounted teams, carry and launch guided weapons or transport wounded soldiers to safety, without risking the lives of more soldiers."
A small fleet of AMSTAF began patrolling Israel's northern border last fall, removing more than 100 soldiers from the line of fire and has also been put to use guarding the 38th parallel as a long range reconnaissance platform. [ARI - Defense Update 1, 2, 3 - iHLS]