NATO Fund Backs German Startup’s Battlefield Bots

€9M Seed Round for ARX Robotics' Self-Driving Military Robots

In a significant move, the NATO Innovation Fund (NIF) has invested in ARX Robotics, a German startup developing self-driving robots for military use. The Munich-based company raised €9 million ($9.8 million) in seed funding, with over half coming from NIF, marking the fund's second public investment in a startup, reports Bloomberg.

ARX Robotics, founded by three German military veterans in 2022, has already built 12 robots that have been deployed in and . The company's ground robots, which run on treads, are designed to be inexpensive, modular, and easily modified in the field. They can be equipped with various tools, such as radar, mine-sweeping devices, or medical stretchers.

The Importance of Autonomy in Modern Warfare

The war in Ukraine has highlighted the critical role of robots paired with software in modern conflicts. “It's only a matter of time before autonomy comes to the ground,” said Chris O'Connor, an NIF partner.

ARX Robotics' CEO, Marc Wietfeld, emphasized the versatility of their robots, with the largest model capable of carrying payloads up to 1,100 pounds (499 kg) and traveling roughly 25 miles (40 km) on a single battery charge. While the company has steered clear of offensive uses for its robots so far, Wietfeld acknowledged that it would be theoretically possible to mount weapons on them.

Expanding Across NATO Countries

NIF aims to support startups with the potential to sell across many NATO , providing militaries with faster access to cutting-edge technologies. ARX Robotics' software system, designed to be tweaked and compatible with other protocols, sets it apart from established defense contractors like Rheinmetall AG and Milrem Robotics.

The startup has already secured contracts worth €308,000 ($335,000) in sales last year and another €1 million ($1.1 million) in the first quarter of this year. With plans for non-military applications, such as simulating gunfire to deter pirates for shipping companies, ARX Robotics is poised for growth.

Wietfeld outlined the company's strategy: “Winning Germany, then winning .” ARX Robotics is currently testing devices in , , Estonia, and Hungary, with the German military serving as a “lighthouse” customer to attract other governments.

DroneXL's Take

The investment in ARX Robotics by the NATO Innovation Fund highlights the growing importance of autonomous systems in modern warfare. As the use of drones and robots continues to evolve, startups like ARX Robotics are well-positioned to provide innovative solutions to military challenges.

The modular design and versatility of ARX Robotics' ground robots offer a promising alternative to more established defense contractors. With the ability to adapt to various roles and environments, these self-driving robots could revolutionize how militaries operate on the battlefield.

As the company expands its presence across NATO countries, it will be interesting to see how its technology is adopted and integrated into existing military strategies. The potential for non-military applications also opens up new markets and opportunities for growth.

Overall, the backing of ARX Robotics by the NATO Innovation Fund is a significant step forward in the development and deployment of autonomous systems in defense and beyond.

Photo courtesy of ARX Robotics.


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Haye Kesteloo
Haye Kesteloo

Haye Kesteloo is the Editor in Chief and Founder of DroneXL.co, where he covers all drone-related news, DJI rumors and writes drone reviews, and EVXL.co, for all news related to electric vehicles. He is also a co-host of the PiXL Drone Show on YouTube and other podcast platforms. Haye can be reached at haye @ dronexl.co or @hayekesteloo.

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