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NG Offers Small, Light UGV

Northrop Grumman has unveiled a new unmanned ground vehicle, EyeDrive, that poses a direct threat to iRobot's SUGV and is being pitched to the Army as a successor or replacement for SUGV for the FCS folo-on program.

The new vehicle was spawned in Israel and, according to at least one source, is already in use by some U.S. special operations troops. A video supplied by the company makes clear NG is pitching the product to the special ops community for hostage rescue. It includes pictures of hostages and bad guys in cells. (If I can shrink the video I hope to post it soon.)

Several capabilities make the EyeDrive a very interesting competitor. It is able to make small hops over obstacles, an ability that is depicted in the video. Also, the Israelis are reportedly trying to build armed versions of the EyeDrive. The video shows it dropping what could be a grenade or small bomb or an independent video camera as it moves along.

The biggest market for this is clearly the Army and Marines. I saw EyeDrive do its stuff at the AUVSI conference here. The machine is much smaller and lighter than iRobot's SUGV and appears to offer sharper video with better coverage area. It appears to be too small to offer the kind of arm attachment that SUGV can be deployed with, but EyeDrive has a built in camera that can be tilted up to look for bombs on the undersides of vehicles or to look for booby-traps in houses.

Northrop obtained the license for EyeDrive from Israel's ODF Optronics, a company known for making small batches of highly capable equipment for Israel's special operations troops.

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