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Australia Designs 'Web Funnel' For Ukraine – Mini Combat Robot Capable Of Launching Missiles

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    Australia Designs 'Web Funnel' For Ukraine – Mini Combat Robot Capable Of Launching Missiles


    When SYPAQ Systems, a startup based in Melbourne, sent a type of drone made from cardboard to the Ukrainian military, quite a few people quipped and downplayed the drone's capabilities, which can fly as far as 120 km. Then, the world's eyes widened when the drone made of cardboard was able to penetrate the Russian air defense system, and successfully attacked the base of the Su-30 and MiG-29 fighter jets.

    Departing from the case above, it apparently encouraged other Australian startups to compete their innovations directly on the battlefield. In this case, Black Sky Aerospace from Queensland, has partnered with a robotics developer also from Australia, Funnel Web Systems. The two startups revealed a prototype of a missile/rocket armed robot called Funnel Web.

    Because it is in the category of armed unmanned vehicles, the Funnel Web can be called Unmanned Combat Ground Vehicle (UCGV). “People think of robots as sensor platforms, payload carriers, and for intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance tasks, but we're giving them fangs,” said Black Sky CEO Blake Nikolic.

    The remotely operated Web funnel allows a soldier to launch a missile without exposing himself to return fire from an opponent. Nikolic added that he saw cases like the one in Ukraine, where an (anti-tank) missile needed to be launched from a location that might put a soldier at too great a risk or be inaccessible.

    Funnel Web can enter a new area and then wait for a target to appear, after which the UCGV can launch missiles or rockets with commands from a distance. “Rockets or missiles can be tailored to the intended use, geography and required effect,” he added.

    Funnel Web is claimed to be designed to be tough with high mobility. This combat robot is controlled from a handheld device that is operated remotely. The Web funnel is equipped with a camera that relays video of its surroundings to controllers so they can decide on weapon launch.

    But don't think that the size of this tire-wheeled combat robot is large, on the other hand, Funnel Web is only mini-sized and weighs (without payload) 1.5 kg. Funnel Web is an adaptive platform, so a variety of ammunition can be used. Battery powered, the Funnel Web combat robot is 90 cm long and 60 cm wide. Meanwhile, the size of the missile reaches 1.2 meters in length.

    During system testing, developers used UTE guided missiles. According to the developer, Ukraine is interested in the project and continues to follow its developments. 

    If everything goes according to plan, Black Sky Aerospace and Funnel Web Systems after receiving the contract will launch mass production of the robot. The two companies claim to be able to produce around 100 guided missiles, 25 UTE guided missiles and 10 Funnel Web units per week.

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