IRobot to develop agile robots for military missions

IRobot Corp. will develop Chemical Robots under a new $3.3 million contract from the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency and the Army Research Office.

ChemBots are soft, flexible, mobile robots that can identify and maneuver through openings smaller than their structural dimensions to perform tasks in complex and highly cluttered environments.

The Bedford, Mass., company will lead a team of technical experts from Harvard University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology that will incorporate advances in chemistry, materials science, actuator technologies, electronics, sensors and fabrication techniques into ChemBots engineering. The resulting designs will expand the capabilities of robots in urban search and rescue and reconnaissance missions.

"Unmanned platforms such as mechanical robots are of limited effectiveness if the only available points of entry are small openings," said Mitchell Zakin, a program manager at DARPA, in an iRobot news release. "We believe that a new class of soft, flexible, meso-scale mobile objects that can identify and maneuver through openings smaller than their dimensions to perform various tasks will be quite valuable in many missions."

About the Author

Doug Beizer is a staff writer for Washington Technology.

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