iRobot Wins $286 Million Army Contract - InformationWeek

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iRobot Wins $286 Million Army Contract

The contract calls for iRobot to deliver as many as 3,000 robots and spare parts over the next five years.

The U.S. Army has awarded a $286 million contract for military robots to iRobot, which will immediately begin to deliver 101 robots for urgent deployment in dangerous missions.

Announced Tuesday, the contract clears the way for iRobot to deliver as many as 3,000 robots and spare parts over the next five years. The contract also covers training and repair services.

While best known for its family of consumer-oriented robots that carry out such tasks as vacuuming floors and cleaning swimming pools, iRobot has also created a series of robots for use by military organizations. Its bomb-sniffing robots have been deployed by U.S. troops in Iraq.

The new contract is based on iRobot's PackBot military robot platform, which has been combat proven. The new generation of military robots will be named iRobot PackBot 510 with FasTac Kit, the company said. The new robots, which have an observation mast with a zoom camera, are smaller and lighter than the previous iRobot PackBot 510.

"This new generation of robots is set to arrive in theaters and change the way the army fights," said Joe Dyer, president of iRobot Government and Industrial Robots, in a statement. "Robots give our troops the distinct advantage of completing critical missions at a safe distance; more robots create a greater strategic advantage."

The company said it has delivered more than 1,200 PackBot robots, which are deployed in dangerous missions. The generic name for these robots is xBot.

The new xBot contract was awarded by the U.S. Army's Program Executive Office for Simulation, Training, and Instrumentation under the auspices of the Robotic Systems Joint Project Office at Redstone Arsenal, Ala.

iRobot said the large order marks a turning point in the way the Army uses robots, as the devices will be used by general infantry forces and not just by explosive experts as was the previous practice for use of the robots.

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