The robot's designers had two major objectives: to keep the robot's procurement cost as low as possible and to make it extremely easy to operate.
“Our conviction is that the infantryman has to be able to concentrate on his mission rather than on manipulating his robot. The robot has to help him, to be an extension of himself and not hinder him in any way; in addition it should be as easy to learn to use as a rifle,” Brousmiche explains. And so one of the robot's principal characteristics is its speed; it has an extremely powerful motor and moves as fast as a running human so that, like a faithful dog, it can “run” with a soldier running for cover and not force its user to wait for the robot to catch up.
In addition, because procurement cost is low enough to make it almost a consumable, “the soldier will not risk his life to go and get it should it have been damaged in some way. He can just leave it behind in the knowledge that it has not cost an arm and a leg,” Brousmiche says. The company would not reveal the price beyond claiming that it would be “an extremely low one.”
The robot, made of synthetic material, is small enough to be carried in the infantryman's backpack or stored in the glovebox of a ground vehicle. It is controlled either from inside the vehicle (of any type, not just a Nexter-designed one) or by a small touchpad strapped to the soldier's sleeve. The robot uses the same technology as video games or smartphones, making it familiar for young soldiers who have been using similar interfaces for leisure most of their lives.
Depending on conditions, the soldier can choose to use the robot with wheels or to slip trackpads on, a tool-free operation as easy as changing the lens on a camera. The robot can be used day or night and in all weather, even after it has fallen into a water-filled hole one meter (3.3 ft.) deep. The current payload allows it to take high-definition video and photographs and to capture sound both indoors and outdoors. In a few months, it will also be able to make a map of the inside of a building.
And—something that Nexter feels is very important—the robot is free of U.S. International Traffic in Arms Regulations restrictions. That means there is no technology involved which would make any export dependent on U.S. approval.