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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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By BrightMoon on 4/24/2007 11:54:23 AM , Rating: 3
What happens if both sides use M-16s?
I think that REDOWL should use WiMax (or similiar technology) so that they may detect signals from friendly weapons activated with fingerprints.

Just a thought.

By TimberJon on 4/24/2007 12:13:30 PM , Rating: 2
They should just have auto-snipers connected to the system, with a human in charge of where the system marked someone, and to verify whether the robot-painted target is green or red based on their own troops locations. iRobot painted a target in a building window 3rd story? paint it red, and an autosniper will get an angle. Would be nice if they can get sniper rifles onto a VTOL or hover platform. R/C helicopter anyone? with collision avoidance.

They should just use a few lasers and rangefinders to sniff out an area where there is movement. So that if the lasers meet with the structure of a barrel interior, it will go evasive to throw that angle off. That could be processed pretty quickly.

By FITCamaro on 4/24/2007 12:32:10 PM , Rating: 2
We can also build a Death Star and threaten to destroy the planet if our demands aren't met wanted practical ideas....

*hides his plans for global domination in a Ronco portable safe*

By Seemonkeyscanfly on 4/24/2007 12:44:09 PM , Rating: 4
hmmmm, and what's not practical about a Death star. It roomy, mobile, and well fortified - expect against X-wing fighters and who has one of those???

By Seemonkeyscanfly on 4/24/2007 1:58:35 PM , Rating: 2
But what if something is painted Red and green, or orange (red and green mixed together)...Would that be friend, foe or Dr. Seuss?

By James Holden on 4/24/2007 2:16:11 PM , Rating: 2
Time to go back to art class dude!

Red and Green are complimentary colors! If you mix them you get mud. Red + Yellow = Orange.

By Seemonkeyscanfly on 4/24/2007 2:30:47 PM , Rating: 2
That's the easy way...If you have green, you have yellow. Start with red and add a little green at a time and you will come to orange in time. It will be a darker shade of orange, because if you put to much in it will be come brown (mud as you put it)...or at least it works that way in paints.

By nerdboy on 4/24/2007 1:31:14 PM , Rating: 2
They should have finger print recognition on the guns just like in Judge Dread and then when the enemy picks it up they shock them self’s or not work because I don't think the gun is capable of holding enough juice to shock everyone.

By djkrypplephite on 4/25/2007 12:04:54 PM , Rating: 2
Yeah that's not gonna happen. If both sides are fighting with M16's, we'll be fighting a different country, so we load a different audio file in place of the AK noise. Simple, IMO. Of course I didn't design the thing so it probably won't work in any logical way.

By Munkles on 4/25/2007 12:10:27 PM , Rating: 2
Wouldnt it just be far simpler to just have the thing preloaded with the majority of weapons sound profiles that way it could tell you not only good/bad but also what weapon your facing. Also a lot of the time, the enemy wont just be using one weapon. The US military doesnt so why should any other organized army, or any other enemy that has to get their weapons from wherever they can?

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