The Ashes

Technology, Science and other news
September 2, 2009

U.S. Army Paying iRobot $35.3 Million For 486 iRobot PackBots

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Filed under : General

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The U.S. Army has just given iRobot a lucrative contract.  The Army will be paying iRobot $35.3 million for 486 PackBots (pictured after the jump).  iRobot is usually best known for making automatic vacuum cleaners.

PackBot are good for searching out for dangerous areas so human soldiers do not have to.  The order was made by the U.S. Army TACOM Contracting Center in Warren, MI.  The Army specifically ordered iRobot PackBot 510 with FasTac Kit robots.  The robots weigh 53 lbs. and can run as fast as 5.8 MPH.  The robots can last 4 hours per charge and are controlled by game-style controllers on a laptop.

Full press release after the jump.

BEDFORD, Mass. (AP) — iRobot Corp. said Tuesday that it has received a $35.3 million order from the U.S. Army to deliver robots designed for military combat situations.

The U.S. Army TACOM Contracting Center in Warren, Mich. ordered 486 iRobot PackBot 510 with FasTac Kit robots — machines that sport long mechanical arms and run on treads — for delivery before March 31.

These 53-pound robots are used to assess dangerous situations and clear a path for soldiers. For instance, it is used in Iraq and Afghanistan to investigate suspicious-looking packages by the road side that might be improvised bombs.

The robots can run as fast as 5.8 miles per hour and last four hours per charge. They are controlled by a laptop with a game-style controller.

The current order is the largest received as yet from the Army’s $286 million Indefinite Delivery/Indefinite Quantity xBot, or IDIQ, contract with iRobot, which was announced in December 2007. The Army can order up to that amount but there’s no guarantee, the company said.

Thus far, iRobot has received $125 million in orders under the IDIQ contract. It has shipped more than 2,500 PackBot robots under this and other contracts.

Shares of Bedford, Mass.-based iRobot fell 45 cents, or 3.9 percent, to $11.02 in midday trading on Tuesday.

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