Australian companies Black Sky Aerospace (BSA) and Funnel Web Systems (FWS) have successfully demonstrated a cutting-edge prototype that brings us one step closer to the reality of robots remotely launching rockets. This innovative technology was unveiled at Poland’s 31st International Defence Exhibition and has far-reaching implications for military ground forces seeking to gain a tactical advantage while minimizing risks to their soldiers. BSA, known for its rapid rocket and missile innovation, joined forces with FWS, an Australian developer specializing in portable ground robots for defense and industrial applications. The result of their collaboration, aptly named the “Funnel Web” after the notorious Australian spider, is a robust and highly mobile platform that can be deployed swiftly.
It features military-grade communications and an intuitive hand controller, making it accessible for operators of varying expertise levels. One particularly noteworthy aspect of this technology is its potential impact on the ongoing conflict in Ukraine. Representatives from Ukraine’s defense sector are closely monitoring the development of these remote rocket-launching robots, with discussions underway regarding their potential deployment in the war against Putin’s forces. The technology boasts strong cybersecurity measures, utilizing “military-grade communications” to safeguard against potential hackers. Users can receive real-time video feeds from the robots’ cameras, providing them with an accurate perspective from the robot’s vantage point. Moreover, the rockets can be command-detonated remotely, enhancing precision and control.
BSA CEO Blake Nikolic said, “People think of robots as sensor platforms, load carriers, and for intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance tasks: but we give them fangs,” Nikolic said. “We can see use-cases such as for Ukraine where a missile needs to launch from a location that might put soldiers at too much risk or be otherwise inaccessible. The Funnel Web can push into new areas and wait for targets to present, and then be command-launched remotely. The rockets themselves can be tailored to the intended use, geography and required effects. From when we discussed the idea to launch took a little under a week. We are in Poland at the moment and here, just across the border from the Ukraine conflict, you can feel the urgency for development of game-changing technologies.”
The prototypes of these rocket launchers are compact, measuring 60mm by 900mm and weighing just 1.5kg. Their agility allows for rapid deployment and positioning, offering flexibility in various operational scenarios. Additionally, the size of the rockets that can be launched by these robots is adaptable to meet the specific needs of users, ranging from 80mm to 1.2m. BSA ability to be tailored to buyers’ requirements and desired effects. This adaptability can significantly benefit Ukrainian soldiers and other military personnel operating in high-risk environments. BSA’s previous successes, such as launching guided weapons from a standard commercial utility vehicle and a flatbed Unimog, underscore their expertise in the field. The successful remote launch of a prototype long-range missile from a privately-owned Mercedes Benz Unimog further demonstrates the practicality and versatility of this technology.