JERUSALEM An Israeli defense firm on Thursday
unveiled a portable robot billed as being capable of entering
most combat zones alone and engaging enemies with an onboard
armory that includes a machine-pistol and grenades.
The VIPeR, roughly the size of a small television, was
invented as part of Israel's efforts to develop weaponry that
could reduce the risks to its forces from hand-to-hand fighting
against Palestinian or Lebanese Hezbollah guerrillas.
The manufacturer, Elbit Systems Ltd., said that the VIPeR's
small size and dual treads enable it to move "undeterred by
stairs, rubble, dark alleys, caves or narrow tunnels."
As well as bomb-sniffing and bomb disposal equipment, the
VIPeR can carry an Uzi machine-pistol or plant a grenade. The
weapons would be aimed using an onboard video camera.
According to Elbit, which has close links with the Defense
Ministry, Israel plans to deploy the VIPeR among its infantry
units after field tests. The robot could also be of interest to
foreign police units or U.S. forces in Iraq and Afghanistan.