The IDF's newest recruit is a versatile little American who proved he can handle himself on the battlefields of Iraq. Drafted for use in the dangerous tunnels on the Gaza Strip border, the Foster-Miller military robot Talon 4 will be deployed instead of soldiers to reduce risks to troops.
"We don't rush to put fighters in tunnels," explains members of Yahalom, the IDF's Special Operations Engineering Unit. For this reason, this Wall-E lookalike is expected to be a hit with the unit's members.
The new robot already has a number of successful missions to its name from its time in the IDF's Southern Command, where it was used as part of anti-tunnel operations conducted against Hamas .
Demonstration of Talon 4 in New York's Times Square:
Shortly after the robot reported for IDF duty it underwent a baptism of fire during its first decontamination assignment, with the help of a Special Forces canine. Thanks to the Talon, the IDF uncovered a large tunnel near Kibbutz Ein HaShlosha, close to the southern Strip.
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After several fighters were wounded by a powerful explosive device that detonated in a tunnel, causing a partial collapse, Yahalom soldiers have not missed an opportunity to make use of the Talon. The little robot has proved its mettle in the underground training facility at the unit's base.
A senior officer in Yahalom says that they prefer not to endanger the lives of their fighters, but "it depends on the situation."
"If we're talking about a war, as in an emergency, and there is suspicion that a tunnel contains valuable intelligence and the robot is unavailable, then soldiers are an option."
The new robot has the ability to defuse explosives in dark tunnels. It has video functionality and can broadcast images from four separate angles simultaneously. It is capable of climbing stairs and overcoming many physical barriers.
Yahalom members praised Talon's work on the most recent tunnel discovery, where the robot successfully operated in pitch black conditions.
The robot can defuse explosive devices underground, and can carry up to 30kg (66 lbs). It can also operate at depths of up to 100 meters underground.
It is constructed with special materials that increase its survivability rating and help it operate in extreme temperatures.
Like all good robots, the Talon also has the ability to self-destruct.