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iRobot SUGV Early -- image courtesy Crave
iRobot and Boeing co-develop the new SUGV Early

The last time DailyTech covered iRobot, the company had made enhancements to its PackBot robot. The PackBot is a 44-pound tracked device that "listens" for enemy gunfire on the battlefield.

Using its Robot Enhanced Detection Outpost with Lasers (REDOWL) system, the Packbot can navigate through a battlefield and distinguish between enemy AK-47 gunfire and friendly M-16 gunfire via its six microphones. The Packbot -- when working in conjunction with an unmanned Micro Air Vehicle (MAV) hovering over a target area -- can then relay back to the operator the exact location of the enemy troops.

iRobot is now working in conjunction with Boeing on a next generation Small Unmanned Ground Vehicle (SUGV). The SUGV Early vehicle will be designed for civil, commercial and military use, weigh less than 30 pounds and will be “backpackable.” In an effort to control the costs of the SUGV, off-the-shelf components will be used.

"The SUGV Early is light enough to be carried long distances and easy enough to operate so that we believe it could become a standard tool for infantry squads and SWAT teams," said Joe Dyer, president of iRobot Government & Industrial Robots. "By teaming with Boeing, we can leverage their system-of-system capabilities and global marketing strength to quickly get these life-saving robots into the hands of our troops, first responders and allies worldwide."

"We see ground robots as a major new growth market and iRobot, as the industry leader in this field, is our partner of choice to bring new robot technology to market," said Boeing Combat Systems VP Dennis Muilenburg.

The first SUGV Early robots will be delivered in 2008. iRobot will handle the design and manufacturing of the SUGV Early while Boeing will lend its hand in systems integration and global marketing.





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