French Manufacturers Partner to Advance Global Defense Technology by Development of Land Robotics

20 Jul 2023

As technological advancements continue to accelerate, military forces around the world are increasingly embracing robotic systems and autonomous technologies to enhance their capabilities on the battlefield.

On 18th April 2023, Nexter Systems, a French government-owned weapons manufacturer, and SERA Ingénierie, a subsidiary of Sogeclair, an aerospace engineering and manufacturing company, announced a partnership agreement to jointly develop land robots for the French Army. 

This collaboration aims to deliver advanced defense robotics solutions that are sovereign and technologically advanced. 

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The French Partnership 
In this public-private partnership, Nexter would contribute its recognized skills in architecture, system integration, and robotic syste ms. On the other hand, SERA Ingénierie, which specializes in the design and manufacturing of special vehicles and mission systems, would provide its recognized expertise in mechanical design and production of defense and security platforms, as well as civil and simulation applications. 

SERA Ingénierie is well-known for its leadership in the fields of counter-mining, simulation, and dynamic behavior of vehicles. The company brings its expertise in land mobility to the partnership through its new Phobos platform. 

Developed over a decade of investment, Phobos is built around three strategic axes, i.e., mobility, autonomy, and modular architecture. This multipurpose robotic carrier, weighing less than 2 tons and capable of carrying a 1-ton payload, is designed to accommodate various mission kits, including tools, sensors, and effectors. Its four independent wheels with reinforced suspension enable it to navigate different terrains at high speeds. 

Moreover, Phobos features a thermal engine and a large fuel tank that ensures the electrical and hydraulic supply of all embedded equipment. This platform will also be available in hybrid or electric versions, offering flexibility and sustainability.

This partnership would transform the military operational environment, with a special focus on safety and cyber protection, as well as manned and unmanned systems architecture. It also emphasizes exploring the human-robot relationship to optimize the system and ensure real-time adjustments between human operators and robotic systems.

Moreover, Nexter has made significant investments over the last ten years in the development of an autonomous mobility kit. This kit combines assisted remote operation with autonomous capabilities, enabling its use in hostile environments. From personnel tracking to route tracking and convoy tracking, Nexter's autonomous mobility kit is designed to adapt to various tactical situations. 

One of the initial projects of this collaboration focuses on the design of an investigation robot that meets the specific needs of engineering units. The Phobos platform stands out for its adaptability, combining mobility, ergonomics, and small logistic footprint. For instance, robots can be easily towed by all-terrain vehicles over long distances or even transported by air. With its advanced robotic architecture, the investigation robot will carry out dangerous missions such as counter-mining while prioritizing the safety of its operators.

With their combined expertise, resources, and shared vision, the Nexter and Sogeclair partnership is expected to yield significant developments in the field of land robotics, ultimately enhancing the effectiveness and efficiency of French military operations.
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