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Nexter and SOGECLAIR, through its subsidiary SERA Ingénierie, have signed a partnership agreement to jointly develop robotic land systems for the French Army.

Both companies are recognised players in French military robotics, but under the partnership Nexter will contribute its capabilities in architecture, system integration and robotic systems, while SERA Ingénierie, which focuses on the design and manufacture of special vehicles and mission systems, will contribute its expertise in the fields of mechanical design and the production of defence and security platforms. The partnership thus aims to offer sovereign, state-of-the-art military robotics solutions to the French Army.

SERA Ingénierie will contribute to the partnership in offering its new Phobos unmanned ground vehicle (UGV). With a net weight of less than two tons and a payload of one ton, the Phobos has been designed to accommodate all types of mission kits (tools, sensors, effectors). Its four independent wheels with reinforced suspension allow it to keep up with tracked armoured vehicles on various types of terrain. In addition, its thermal engine and its large fuel tank ensure the supply of electrical and hydraulic power to all embedded equipment. The Phobos UGV will also be available in a hybrid or electric version.

SERA Ingénierie’s Phobos UGV in the foreground with a Nexter-produced Serval 4×4 behind it. The two companies are joining forces to develop robotic solutions for the French Army. (Photo: Nexter)

As a reference industrial prime contractor, Nexter brings its knowledge of the operational environment and its constraints (such as operating safety or cyber protection), as well as its know-how in manned and unmanned systems architectures. In the field of robotics Nexter is developing an autonomous mobility kit combining assisted remote operation with autonomous capabilities that can be used in hostile environments (such as personnel tracking, route tracking, convoy tracking, rallying to a point of interest, and so on.), thanks to major investments made over the past 10 years.

In particular, Nexter has explored the human/robotic system relationship in order to optimise the contribution of each entity and also adjust this in real time, regardless of the tactical situation.

One of the first joint projects for the two companies concerns the design of an investigative robot aimed at meeting the needs of engineering units. The Phobos UGV is well suited for this due to its mobility, ergonomics and small logistic footprint.

“The partnership between Nexter and SERA Ingénierie (SOGECLAIR) reflects the will to unite the key players of the French robotics in order to create the new land robot solutions,” Sylvain Rousseau, Director of Nexter’s Systems activity, was quoted as saying in a company press release.

Olivier Pedron, President of SERA Ingénierie and Chief Operating Officer of SOGECLAIR, was quoted as saying that the partnership “aims to provide solutions with a small logistical footprint, robust, sober, proven and reliable”.

Peter Felstead