MA-based, iRobot, Receives $11M Order from U.S. Army; Will Supply 70 Small Unmanned Ground Vehicle (SUGV) Robots

Posted by erik devaney

If you were under the impression that iRobot is only in the business of building those circular, floor-cleaning phenoms known as Roombas, then you are sorely mistaken. The Bedford, MA-based company also builds robots for more labor-intensive tasks. In addition to helping homeowners sweep their floors, iRobot’s creations can help U.S. soldiers sweep minefields.

The U.S. Army Contracting Command in Warren, Michigan recently placed an $11 million order with iRobot. The Army will receive 70 of the company’s model 310 SUGV robots as well as spares kits. SUGV robots are smaller, lighter versions of iRobot’s PackBots, which the Army has worked with before.

Like PackBots, SUGV robots have army tank-style tracked wheels, as well as articulating arms. However, as Charlie Vaida of iRobot’s Government & Industrial Robots division told New England Post, “SUGV is designed specifically for dismounted operations, so it is ideal for use in areas with rough terrain, like Afghanistan. Its lighter weight makes it possible for one operator to carry the robot and deploy it quickly in dangerous situations.”

“What types of dangerous situations will the Army use its new batch of 310 SUGV robots in?” you might be wondering. As Vaida commented, “310 SUGV performs dismounted operations, including explosive ordnance disposal (EOD), reconnaissance and route clearance.” Essentially, the SUGV will poke its head around blind corners and tread on potentially bomb-infested turf so soldiers don’t have to.

If you’re skeptical that a robot can stand up to the dangers of heavy combat as well as to the challenges of tough terrain, check out this video of the iRobot 310 SUGV in action:

As time goes on, Vaida sees robots playing an increasingly significant role on the battlefield. “In the past, ground robots like PackBot were used primarily for explosive ordnance disposal (EOD),” he told New England Post. Robots like the SUGV, however, “are now in the hands of the infantry and playing a greater role in reconnaissance, route clearance and other types of dangerous missions. These robots are proven on the battlefield and saving lives every day.”

The 310 SUGV is by no means the last robot that  iRobot plans to add to the U.S. Army’s arsenal. According to Vaida, the company currently has two more military robots in the works: the 710 Warrior, which is considerably larger than the 310 SUGV, and the 110 FirstLook, which is considerably smaller.

The iRobot 710 Warrior  is “a large robot that weighs about 350 pounds and can carry up to 150 pound payloads,” Vaida told New England Post. “This powerful and rugged robot is ideal for EOD missions that require heavy-lift capabilities in hard to reach areas.”

In contrast, “The iRobot 110 FirstLook robot is iRobot’s smallest ground robot,” he sad. “FirstLook weighs about 5 pounds and can be thrown or driven into dangerous environments for special operations surveillance purposes.”

According to Vaida, both the Warrior and the FirstLook will be ready for delivery in early 2012.

Short URL:

Posted by erik devaney on Oct 4 2011. Filed under Business. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry

Leave a Reply

Log in | Maintained by BlackDoor Creative