Shahar Gal, CEO of Israel-based General Robotics spoke exclusively to Defence Hound on what inspired him to start the company and how the development of the DOGO robot is helping special forces around the world with enhanced situational awareness.
What makes your robots different from others in the market?
The inspiration behind the development of the DOGO robot is a personal story. My brother-in-law is an Israeli Navy Seal, and during an operation, his squad went door-to-door to find and capture armed and dangerous terrorists. During the search, a terrorist opened fire and killed a squad member and severely wounded others, including my brother-in-law.
This incident made us realize that sending humans into these ‘Fatal Funnels’ without knowing what is waiting for them on the other side is wrong. We had to find a way to stop humans from being sent there as human “sensors.” That’s how the idea for the DOGO robot was born.
DOGO is designed for Anti-Terror & Crime purposes. It has the perfect size and weight to drive in close quarter battle areas and climb stairs. It also incorporates 8 video cameras for situational awareness. DOGO can negotiate with a microphone and speaker and the ability to engage fast by lethal or non-lethal means by Point & Shoot technology. Fast forward 7 years of intensive development, DOGO robots are now operational in several countries. These robots provide special forces with enhanced situational awareness and are occupying terrorists by lethal or by non-lethal means.
What are their defense capabilities?
- From an engineering point of view – DOGO’s body is made with carbon fiber, so it is very durable and also lightweight. The camera modules are integrated into a rubber casing so they can withstand shocks and flex. There is a redundancy in the batteries and in the cameras. So, even if one battery or camera is hit, all the other cameras and the second battery will continue to function. The electronic cards are made by Class 3 Standard and undergo special coating for additional reinforcement.
- From an operational point of view – every shot taken at the robot is one less shot to be taken at humans, and this allows the special forces to engage while the robots occupy the terrorist. So having the terrorist engaged and damaging robots is part of the concept of operation, which leads us to the commercial point of view.
- From a commercial point of view – Damage caused to the robot by the terrorist is considered a success. We invented a new type of warranty which is called Anti-Terror & Crime Warranty, meaning whenever terrorist damage a DOGO, it is considered normal use. And General Robotics covers the damages and, if necessary, replace the damaged robot with a new one.
For the PITBULL system, from an engineering perspective – The system is made of high-quality stainless steel. All the electronic cards are made by Class 3 Standard and undergo special coating for additional reinforcement. The PITBULL Systems also add reinforcement of metal plates to cover the area of the electronics and partially cover the optics to a Stanag 2 level.
From an operational perspective, the system is often integrated into light armored vehicles. So, in case the vehicle itself is hit or compromised, the operator inside the vehicle can detach the RANGER RCU controller from the vehicle just by disconnecting one fast release cable and continue to operate the PITBULL by wireless communication from a safer place.
What does innovation mean at General Robotics?
Innovation is our DNA. We are a team of highly skilled engineers, and I am the only one who does the marketing and sales. And all the manufacturing is done by an American partner, so we can focus all of our effort on what we do best – innovation.
What sort of emerging technology is the company focusing on currently?
Our core technology is in situational awareness and lethality. We provide an understanding of what is going on in the most dangerous areas without having to send humans there. We do it by sending robots that incorporate 8 video cameras along with many other sensors. This information is wirelessly transmitted in real-time to our Ranger Remote Control Unit (RCU), where a human can supervise and control the system from a safer place.
How does General Robotics differentiate itself from the rest of the industry?
All our robotics systems and RCWS systems are lightweight and lethal, designed to be used in urban warfare. They all include high-end Situational Awareness and Point & Shoot technology for fast and accurate engagement.