U.S. Navy upgrading robots

July 18, 2012 at 9:06 AM
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BEDFORD, Mass., July 18 (UPI) -- The U.S. Navy has given iRobot Corp. a $7.7 million order to upgrade robots used by the service and to deliver advanced sensor suites.

The order from the Naval Sea Systems Command covers iRobot Aware 2 software upgrades and sensor suites for 248 fielded Man Transportable Robotic System MK 1 MOD 1 robots, which are modeled on the company's 510 PackBot.

Tim Trainer, interim general manager of iRobot's Defense and Security business unit, said: "iRobot is pleased the Navy is continuing to invest in its current fleet of robots. These upgrades will provide our troops with some of the most advanced, life-saving robotic technologies available today.

"IRobot's UAP (user assist program) improves mission effectiveness while reducing workload and further minimizing operator exposure to dangerous environments."

Sensor suites to be delivered as part of the upgrade include the iRobot Wide-Angle Robot Vehicle Vision System camera, thermal camera and the User Assist Package, which improves the operator control unit, GPS mapping and critical semi-autonomous features to 510 PackBot level. The 510 PackBot level includes self-righting capability, retro-traverse and heading hold.

The new camera systems will provide increased fields of view and imaging in low-light environments.

The PacBot was first used by U.S. military forces in Afghanistan in 2002 to, help clear caves and bunkers.

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