January 29, 2008, Burlington, MA--iRobot, a provider of consumer and military behavior-based robots (including Roomba vacuum-cleaning robots), announced that the U.S. Army has accelerated its testing schedules for iRobot's Future Combat Systems (FCS) Small Unmanned Ground Vehicle (SUGV) robot development program. The updated plan calls for iRobot to deliver a total of 25 FCS SUGV robots by April 2008.
The FCS SUGV is a tactical reconnaissance robot designed to assist soldiers in obtaining intelligence in dangerous or otherwise inaccessible areas. Modeled after the combat-proven iRobot PackBot, the SUGV offers multiple video sensors for real-time day/night tactical situational awareness. At just 30 pounds, SUGV's portability, modularity, and agility make it an essential component of the individual soldier's gear in the integrated FCS program.
In a related story by Lewis Page published online in The Register (www.theregister.co.uk; London, England), iRobot has struck a deal allowing it to use laser-scanning technology in its future designs. Reports have it that the kit could be in use in 2009. The laser-vision system--also known as 'ladar' as it is effectively a laser-light version of radar rather than a camera--is provided by Advanced Scientific Concepts (ASC) of California. iRobot has also bought shares in ASC, as well as inking the exclusive marketing and technology deal.
"We continue to receive a tremendous amount of positive feedback from soldiers in theater that iRobot PackBot is an essential tool for ensuring mission readiness and improving situational awareness to keep soldiers out of harm's way," said Vice Admiral Joseph Dyer (U.S. Navy, Ret.), president of iRobot's Government & Industrial Robots division. "We see this acceleration as clear evidence of the U.S. Army's recognition of the critical role robots play in arming soldiers with the best intelligence and combat options to provide clear advantage on the battlefield."
iRobot is currently under contract agreement to develop the next-generation SUGV for the FCS program with Science Applications International (SAIC), which serves as the FCS Lead Systems Integrator with Boeing. This decision marks the first significant delivery of SUGVs to military customers.
For more information, visit www.irobot.com.