Northrop pitches small unmanned ground vehicle for special ops

Promotional video shows how five-pound robot could assist in hostage rescues

Northrop Grumman Corp. is actively promoting its new mini ground robot as a key technology for special operations missions such as hostage rescues, reports Colin Clark in DOD Buzz.

The company’s small unmanned ground vehicle, named EyeDrive, is being marketed to the Army as a possible successor or replacement for the SUGV slated for the Future Combat Systems follow-on program.

The five-pound, remote-controlled robot is designed for observation and surveillance missions and can provide continuous real-time, 360-degree audio and video surveillance, company officials said earlier this year. The robot, which is rugged enough to withstand being thrown through windows, has five cameras. It has a camera on each side, one front and rear, and another forward camera for driving.

A video promoting the machine shows it is capable of making small hops over obstacles. The video also shows the machine dropping what might be a grenade, small bomb or an independent video camera as it plugs along.

Northrop Grumman unit Remotec Inc. signed an agreement earlier this year with Israel’s ODF Optronics Ltd. giving it permission to be the sole provider of EyeDrive in the United States and Canada.

EyeDrive poses a possible threat to iRobot Inc.’s SUGV that was developed under the FCS program, according to the DOD Buzz article. But iRobot is not waiting for the competition to catch up. The company is hard at work developing throwbots — small robots that warfighters can toss into an area to carry out a support mission, reports Sean Gallagher in Defense Systems.

One of these is LANdroid, which the company is developing under a contract with the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency.

Northrop Grumman ranks No. 3 on Washington Technology's 2009 Top 100 list of the largest federal government prime contractors.


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