Army hires iRobot for next-gen bots

The Army has awarded a $286 million indefinite-delivery, indefinite-quantity contract to iRobot Corp. for up to 3,000 military robots, spare parts, training and repair services over the next five years.

The Army's Program Executive Office for Simulation, Training and Instrumentation awarded the xBot contract to iRobot of Burlington, Mass., on behalf of the Robotic Systems Joint Project Office at Redstone Arsenal, Ala.

The vendor's winning xBot prototype robot is based on its iRobot PackBot military robot platform, and the robots it will provide under the current contract will be called the iRobot PackBot 510 with FasTac Kit, which are smaller and lighter than its iRobot PackBot 510 unit. The robots with the FasTac Kit also have a robust gripper and an observation mast equipped with a low-light-capable zoom camera, the vendor said.

Up until now, the Army has used robots primarily for the removal of explosive ordinance devices. But with this contract award, the Army plans to issue robots in larger numbers to its general infantry for a variety of missions. According to iRobot, it will immediately begin delivery of the contract's first 101 robots for deployment in various urgent situations.

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