After a first foray into military robotics thanks to the ROBBOX mule, SERA Ingénierie is trying its luck again with the PHOBOS robot. Unveiled last week at Eurosatory, it was able to face the field during the CoHoMa challenge organized at the end of May by the Battle Lab Terre.
SERA Engineering is ” mostly engineers from motor racing, from Formula 1 to Paris-Dakar, and who bring their expertise for military applications “, we are told. Between the 2,500 m2 reserved for production and the design office, ” we are talking about twenty people dedicated to prototyping and small series”.
It is by capitalizing on these skills that SERA, a subsidiary of the SOGECLAIR group, has designed the mined route opening system (SOUVIM 2) operated by the 13e army engineer regiment as well as a fast attack vehicle for the French special forces. It is now using the lessons of the ROBBOX also to offer the PHOBOS, a versatile and modular robot of 2 tons including 1 ton of payload.
” PHOBOS was designed as a vehicle following two guidelines “. Firstly, it was a question of getting rid of any mobility problem thanks to a 100% “in-house” chassis, 4×4 propulsion, very wide suspensions and a wheelbase proportionally comparable to that of Scorpion vehicles. ” It is designed to cross any type of terrain. We climbed 60° slopes, we had trouble following behind “.
And second, autonomy. Exit the hybrid engine of the ROBBOX, the PHOBOS is built around a single diesel engine and a hydraulic transmission. Thanks to the 90 liter tank expandable up to 200 liters, the maximum autonomy ” is counted in weeks “. A useful capacity for certain long-term missions, such as the monitoring of sensitive areas, and which proves to be decisive for supplying any on-board equipment.
For Eurosatory, the mobility expert chose to explore the “armament” function by adding a remotely operated cupola equipped with two rocket baskets supplied by Thales and a designation module from the iXblue range. ” It made sense given the news. “says SERA Engineering.
Other effectors are under study, such as the CILAS HELMA-P anti-drone laser, a prototype of which has just been acquired by the Ministry of the Armed Forces. ” Nothing prevents us from imagining other kits for other missions, such as logistics, medical evacuation, and civil applications for the benefit of firefighters or the National Gendarmerie, for example. “.
Barely created, the PHOBOS has already faced an operational scenario. It was during the CoHoMa challenge, in which SERA took part with “Force W”, a team led by Thales. The PHOBOS then played the role of “mother vehicle”, capable of launching, recovering, recharging and relaunching a micro-robot or a micro-drone. It was itself piloted from another parent vehicle, a modified VAB. Launched in November 2021, the design resulted in a first run six months later. ” It will have been a big challenge for the teams, motivated by the obligation to meet CoHoMa “.
Other demonstrations, other avenues for improvement are on the program. The platform is complete, but discussions are continuing on the integration of new autonomy modules, driving aids and artificial intelligence. The PHOBOS has reached the prototype stage, but SERA is now considering its industrialization. A delicate phase for which it will be able to rely on the skills of the SOGECLAIR group, which has around ten factories and integration sites around the world.
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Eurosatory 2022: PHOBOS, a new card to play in robotics for SERA Ingénierie – FOB – Forces Operations Blog
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