Ask any soldier what they think about fighting in cities, and they’ll tell you they don’t care for it. Too many hiding places, too many civilians, too many dangers. But if an Israeli company succeeds with its new strategy of using drones to fight urban warfare, it may be the defenders who “don’t care for it.”

The Israeli defense contractor Rafael demonstrated a kind of one-two punch of using drones and robots to fight urban warfare. And if you want your hair stand on end, imagine defending a building when these two come to visit.

The autonomous drones aren’t armed…yet. (As we’ve reported, that’s certainly coming.)

But they can scan and map buildings under any lighting conditions. They can also spot people in the buildings and determine if they’re armed. And by using facial recognition software, they can even recognize particular individuals.

“Identifying targets automatically has been operational for years in air forces and naval forces across the world, but infantry forces weren’t able to benefit — until now,” Shmuel Olanski, the head of the innovation program center at Rafael, told Ctech.

An operator controls the missions from a small tablet. They see what the robots sees and receive other information from thermal and proximity sensors. The goal is to reduce the need to send human fighters into danger zones or at least give soldiers accurate intelligence.

And the intelligence can be quickly shared among units by a system developed by Rafael known as Smart Trigger. Commanders should be better informed about which units are in the best position to attack.

“Today, we can really talk about the ability to connect, in real-time, the plane, the helicopter, the drone, the tank, the soldier at all times, constantly,” says Rafael CEO Yoav Har-Even.

Drones fight urban warfare silently?

The drone’s racket did not impress reporters at a recent demonstration, but Rafael is one of Israel’s leading weapons manufacturers. It believes it can make the drones less noisy if that’s what the client wants.

Say hello to my little friend

“Some customers are looking for silent flight. We will be able to provide that. And there are those who actually want the drone to make noise and scare occupants so that they will exit the premises,” says Olanski.


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