Estonian ground combat robot manufacturers Milrem Robotics were founded in 2013. In 8 years, they have built a decent international reputation and develop the universal robotic platform THeMIS, which has a great response. In 2019, the Estonian Defense Force Eesti Kaitsevägi deployed the THeMIS robot in Mali as part of the French-led counter-terrorism operation Barkhane.
The THeMIS robotic vehicle has recently had another significant career success. Two of these robots took part in a sharp-shooting military exercise organized by the Estonian Defense Forces. The robots cooperated with human units, provided them with an overview of the situation on the battlefield, supported them with fire, and, if necessary, evacuated the wounded and fallen.
The exercise, which took place in April 2021, included ground maneuvers that faced a simulated armored ground attack. The main forces of the defenders remained in positions about 1 km from the attacker, while one of the THeMIS robots in the Combat Support UGV version, with an integrated remote-controlled weapon station deFNder Light Remote Weapon System, was advanced in front of humans. He transported anti-tank ammunition on the battlefield and provided support fire with a 7.62 mm machine gun, for advancing anti-tank and reconnaissance teams.
The second THeMIS robot, which operated in the Observe UGV version, launched the cable-operated reconnaissance drone Acecore. He gathered intelligence on the situation on the battlefield and directed artillery fire. In addition, the Acecore drone had another role, which was to monitor the safety of the participants in the exercise, due to the ongoing sharpshooting.
After destroying its primary target, THeMIS Combat Support UGV turned into a robotic ambulance that carried simulated losses. Both robots were controlled by soldiers during the exercise, using a hand-held controller and an augmented reality headset.
As stated by Mari-Li Kapp from the leadership of the artillery battalion, which took part in the exercise, the deployment of robots proved to be beneficial in several respects. THeMIS robots have proven that they can cover human units with fire. They were also able to monitor the situation on the front line and act as observers for directing artillery fire.