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iRobot Awarded $16.58M for First Major Deployment of Explosive-Detection Robots

Category: Robots

iRobot Corp. announced it was awarded a $16.58 million order for delivery of more than 100 explosive-detection robots for use by the U.S. military in Iraq.

The contract was granted by the procurement office of the Naval Air Systems Command on behalf of the Robotic Systems Joint Project Office (RSJPO) at Redstone Arsenal, Ala. iRobot expects to begin delivery of the units in the first half of 2007. The company has teamed with ICx Technologies to integrate its award-winning, explosive-detection technology onto the combat-proven iRobot PackBot(r) platform. The technology has been successfully tested in Iraq during the past year.

The payload, called the ICx Fido for iRobot PackBot 500, can detect explosives' vapors emanating from Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs). PackBot features a highly dexterous, 7-foot arm that allows the robot to place the explosive sensor close to suspicious packages and other objects, as well as reach through car windows and under vehicles. PackBot can then use its on-board capabilities to destroy IEDs, while warfighters remain out of harm's way.

"This RSJPO order marks the first major deployment of explosive-detection robots and demonstrates a new market application for robot technology," said Vice Admiral Joe Dyer (U.S. Navy, Ret.), president of iRobot Government & Industrial Robots. "There is a critical need for robots that can safely detect and disrupt explosives, not just for warfighters deployed in Iraq, but also for first responders around the world."

"The digital, modular architecture of iRobot PackBot enabled rapid and easy integration of the Fido payload, ensuring that iRobot can quickly meet the needs of the customer," said Joel Roark, general manager of ICx Nomadics, the business unit of ICx Technologies involved in the integration. "The Fido payload is highly sensitive and, combined with PackBot, makes a formidable and mobile explosive-detection robot that removes the human operator from harm's way."

To date, iRobot has delivered more than 800 PackBot robots to a broad range of military and civilian customers worldwide. The robots have performed tens of thousands of missions in Iraq and Afghanistan and are credited with saving soldiers' lives.

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