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Report: €9 million in military robots ordered from German startup by NATO

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ARX Robotics has just received €9 million (US$9.7M) from the NATO Innovation Fund to develop a series of robust unmanned ground vehicles. The modular design of the bots makes them capable of filling a variety of roles in the alliance’s attack and defense systems.

The NATO Investment Fund (NIF) is a standalone venture capital fund worth €1 billion (US$1.08b) backed by 24 of the 32 members of the NATO alliance. It “invests in cutting-edge science and engineering startups to strengthen the defense, security and resilience of our nations,” says the group on its website. Last week the NIF announced its very first backing, in which it co-led a series A round of funding totaling US$22.5 million for UK startup iCOMAT. That company specializes in the creation of strong but light composite materials that can be used for aircraft as well as ground-based vehicles.

As its second investment, the group continues to show that NATO is taking its own defense seriously with the backing of ARX Robotics. Both of these funding announcements come at a time when the possibility of a second Trump presidency in the United States is causing concern among NATO members over America’s continued involvement in the alliance.

The new order will help ARX, a company founded by former German army soldiers, to develop and provide autonomous vehicles from its GEROEN line.

“The armies of Western democracies are not prepared for robotic warfare,” says Marc Wietfeld, CEO and Co-Founder of ARX Robotics. “To significantly enhance the capabilities of our armed forces and serve as a force multiplier, an interconnected critical mass of autonomous unmanned ground systems is required. These systems must be simple to manufacture in a decentralized manner and deployable in critical mass. ARX is committed to contributing to European technological sovereignty by scaling up the production of these systems, generating software-defined systems, and developing adaptive hardware to meet the demand for robust and autonomous unmanned systems.”

The autonomous vehicles in the GEREON line come in four different sizes to address different battlefield needs, with the largest able to carry up to 500 kg (1,100 lb) and serve as a drone transporter or a medivac unit. Other robotic units in the line are heavily armored and are meant to be used for training and simulation drills, while still others are fairly compact and perfect for carrying delicate sensors that could be used for surveillance.

Because all of the robotic vehicles are modular, their functionality can shift based on battlefield needs.

The machines have already been tested and deployed by several armies across Europe, including those of Switzerland, Germany, Austria, Hungary, and Ukraine.

“We are honored to support ARX and to help them scale production across Europe,” said Chris O’Connor from the NIF. “As the need to prepare for a future of unmanned warfare continues, ground autonomy remains a difficult problem to solve. Informed by insights from serving in the armed forces, the team at ARX has developed a leading, cost-effective, modular ground system that can be mass-produced and easily deployed in defense, humanitarian crises, and beyond.”

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