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U.S. Army Expanding PackBot Contract With iRobot

iRobot has expanded its catalog of military and security robots in recent months, including very small LANdroids used by soldiers in urban settings.

The expanding applications of ground tactical robots manufactured by iRobot has resulted in the Army awarding a contract to the company valued at up to $200 million for equipment and service over the next five years.

According to an announcement from iRobot on Tuesday, the contract from the United States Army's program executive office for simulation, training, and instrumentation replaces an earlier contract that had been solely for purchases of iRobot PackBot robots.

The company, which makes robots for both military and commercial markets, noted that it has delivered more than 1,700 PackBot robots to date.

"As the Army continues to utilize ground tactical robots with greater frequency, new applications for these robots are being identified," said Joe Dyer, president of iRobot government and industrial robots, in a statement. "We are pleased that this contract will allow iRobot to expand our product offering as the Army sees fit, as each of our robots possesses specific capabilities that allow troops to complete a wide range of missions."

Earlier this summer, the Army awarded $17.5 million to iRobot to deliver 220 PackBots. The company has developed additional military and security robots in recent months, including very small devices called LANdroids that are so small that a single dismounted soldier can carry multiple versions of the robots to be thrown about in urban settings; the robots then communicate via mesh network, self-configuring even when some have been blown up or otherwise disabled.

Last month, iRobot unveiled a low-cost tactical robot for public safety organizations that can climb stairs, test for dangerous chemicals, and alert public safety officials of the results. Called the Negotiator, the small robot is slated for delivery by the end of the year.

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