Armor: Robotic Combat Vehicle for Border Patrol


May 22, 2006: Israeli border police are testing an robotic vehicle for some patrols. The AvantGuard is a militarized version of the two seater all-terrain "Tomcar" vehicle. It contains sensors and software that enables it to patrol along planned routes, and is capable of some cross country operation as well. The AvantGuard can mount a remote controlled gun turret with a 7.62mm machine-gun. The vehicle has cameras facing every direction, which use pattern recognition to identify potential threats (like people sneaking around where they are not supposed to be), or obstacles on the road. With AvantGuard, a pair of human operators can control a dozen or more vehicles. The AvantGuard is particularly effective at night, because it has night vision and moves quietly. Weighing only 1.3 tons, the AvantGuard is protected against rifle fire and fragments from shells and roadside bombs.

Israeli firms have been doing some of the most advanced work on pattern recognition for security systems. Think of this as security cameras that can think for themselves, and decide what requires a humans attention. The same pattern recognition capabilities can be used to spot and identify obstacles on the road. The AvantGuard is not a unique system, as there have been autonomous security vehicles for some years now, as well as over a decade of efforts to build autonomous road vehicles. Progress has been slow, but steady. AvantGuard is one of the first road vehicles to perform well enough for actual use on a dangerous frontier. The AvantGuard can operate with a human crew as well. Testing of AvantGuard in action over the next year will determine whether or not the vehicle is really the first robotic combat vehicle, or just another step along the way.


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