iRobot Wins $3.75M Army Contract to Develop Warrior Robot

Bedford, MA-based iRobot (NASDAQ: IRBT) said today that the U.S. Army’s Tank-Automotive Research, Development and Engineering Center (TARDEC) will pay the company $3.75 million to build and deliver two “Warrior 700” robots (pictured here.)

The Warrior, which has been under development for more than two years, is designed to serve as the big brother of iRobot’s popular Packbot device, which is already widely used for bomb-sniffing and other hazardous situations in Iraq and Afghanistan. With a longer chassis and a much greater payload capacity, the Warrior will be capable of explosives disposal, firefighting, clearing buildings, and even extracting casualties from the battlefield, the company says. Special “payload positioning” software allows the robot to rotate its four treads and change its center of gravity to carry loads across difficult terrain.

“We are confident that the iRobot Warrior will secure a strong foothold within infantry, first responders and combat engineers,” Joe Dyer, president of iRobot’s government and industrial robots division, said in a statement. The company plans to start selling production units of the Warrior in 2009.

TARDEC, at the Detroit Arsenal in Warren, MI, is the Army’s laboratory for advanced military automotive technology. It develops manned and unmanned ground systems for combat support.

Wade Roush is a freelance science and technology journalist and the producer and host of the podcast Soonish. Follow @soonishpodcast

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