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Calcalist. The startup was founded in Israel in 2009 by co-CEOs Yossi Wolf and Elad Levy. Wolf has more than 15 years’ experience in the fields of robotics and unmanned vehicles. Prior to founding Roboteam, he was head of the robotics division at ODF Optronics. He has an extensive background in physics and philosophy and is the holder of several patents. He previously served as a Captain and Company Commander in the Israeli Air Force Special Forces. Levy, who is responsible for global operations, previously served as an Officer and Company Commander in the Israeli Air Force Special Forces and holds a B.Sc. in Mechanical Engineering from the Technion – Israel Institute of Technology, where he specialized in Robotic Control. Roboteam initially received funding from the Israeli Administration for the Development of Weapons and Technological Infrastructure. The Israel Defense Forces (IDF) has officially included Roboteam’s tactical robotic system, dubbed Soldier of Iron, as the newest members of its elite infantry units. The new addition is equipped with day/night vision, can climb stairs, and is capable of completing high-risk surveillance and reconnaissance missions. [caption id="attachment_433863" align="aligncenter" width="1024"]roboteam_soldier_of_iron Soldier of Iron: Roboteam. (Courtesy: YNet)[/caption] Roboteam designs, develops and manufactures remote control unmanned UGV for defense, law enforcement, and public safety missions. The company is able to provide expert technical engineering units offering complete operational and tactical control, overall mission management and enhanced force coordination. It now counts as its customers various U.S. military and homeland defense branches, as well as defense and counter-terrorism forces in Canada, the UK, Switzerland, Italy, Poland, Singapore, Thailand, and others, with 32 site deployments worldwide and 54 government contracts delivered. Roboteam is making inroads into the U.S. market by producing less costly, multiple-mission robots. “We need to make systems differently for the new battlefield,” says Roboteam’s North America CEO Shahar Abuhazira, a veteran of Israel’s summer 2014 Gaza war where he served as an infantry company commander in support of the urban, anti-tunnel campaign. Of Roboteam’s 120 direct employees, about half are based in Israel and the rest are at its U.S. headquarters in Gaithersburg, Maryland and elsewhere. Lowering the cost of producing and maintaining robots is imperative for manufacturers that want to compete in this market. The small unmanned ground vehicles that the Army bought by the thousands over the past decade cost up to $200,000 each, depending on the configuration and quantities. “I think we need to cut the price in half,” Abuhazira recently told the National Defense Industrial Association’s National Defense magazine. “It’s not just the cost of buying, but also maintenance and service.” The Army estimates that since 2004, it has built up an inventory of about 7,000 robots, most assigned to explosive ordnance disposal teams. Officials are now eyeing broader applications for robots that could be equipped with a diversity of weapons and cameras. “We need to make sure systems are simpler to operate,” Abuhazira says. Whereas explosive ordnance squads are dedicated experts, infantry troops need more user-friendly machines. To do multiple jobs, robots have to be “plug and play” systems so users can pick and choose sensors and payloads to fit the mission, Abuhazira says. “Today it’s expensive to do changes.” Roboteam created a line of lightweight, fast deployable unmanned ground systems that deliver technological and functional breakthroughs for tactical purposes with unmatched reliability. Its customers include the US Military, Special Forces, EOD units and SWAT teams as well as other elite units around the globe. Roboteam’s success can be attributed to the company’s intimate knowledge of customers’ operational needs. “All around the world, terrorism looks the same, whether it’s ISIS, or in Israel, France or Chechnya,” Roboteam’s co-founder and co-CEO Yosi Wolf told Bloomberg last year. “Fighting terrorism is urban warfare where carrier ships and war planes are a lot less relevant. This is where special forces make the difference and these robots can be game-changers.” Roboteam features a family of robotic solutions and operator control units designed for numerous operational missions such as gathering tactical intelligence and reconnaissance (ISR), explosive ordinance disposal (EOD), subterranean/tunnel investigations, search & rescue, and chemical, biological, radiological, nuclear and hazardous materials (CBRN & HAZMAT) handling. Roboteam is one of several bidders for the Army’s CRSI, or common robotic system individual. The service plans to acquire up to 4,100 25-pound or lighter robots for use at the squad level, according to NDIA. The company won a U.S. government contract from the Combating Terrorism Technical Support Office in 2013 to produce a micro-tactical ground robot that was later acquired by U.S. special operations forces, homeland security and border security agencies. Key to winning that contract, was offering a backpack-size robot that could be operated more easily by dismounted troops and law enforcement agents, Abuhazira said. According to Roboteam executives, the MTGR weighs less than 20 pounds, carries its weight in payload and is built to clear obstacles, climb stairs and conduct complex maneuvers in extreme terrain. Billed by the company as the world’s lightest EOD platform, the single-soldier-carried MTCG travels at 2 mph, climbs 8-inch stairs and has a line of sight operating range of more than 1,600 feet. Established initially as a boutique provider of optronics, robotics and intuitive imaging, Roboteam beat out much larger and more established US firms Foster Miller, a subsidiary of British QinetiQ; and Bedford, Massachusetts-based iRobot, said Defense News. In July, Roboteam hired former Army Assistant Secretary for Acquisition, Logistics, and Technology Heidi Shyu to serve on its advisory board. Shyu is a known personality in the Pentagon and the industry who has championed the use of unmanned systems, NDIA says. During her time as the Army’s top procurement executive, Shyu was emphatic about the need for a common architecture, open-source software and open standards in robotics programs. Roboteam executives met Shyu in 2014 following a visit by Pentagon procurement chief Frank Kendall to the company’s research center in Tel Aviv. Kendall was especially impressed by the technology for unmanned subterranean vehicles and asked Shyu to go see it for herself. Abuhazira says Shyu will help direct strategic planning, “so we better understand the market, and better plan our resources to meet the Army requirements.” The top targets are the CRSI program and the next generation of the Army’s “man-transportable robotics system.” According to NDIA, the MTRS will replace the Talon family of robots over the next decade. “Soon after we opened, within months, we started to get contacted by the U.S. government,” he says. “We are growing fast.” One of the largest wins was a $25 million Air Force contract in 2015 to supply up to 250 small bomb-disposal robots.]]>