iRobot Corp. (NASDAQ: IRBT) and The Boeing Company (NYSE: BA) announced they have signed a teaming agreement to develop and deliver a new, next-generation Small Unmanned Ground Vehicle (SUGV) to military, civil and commercial users. Weighing less than 30 pounds, the robot, named SUGV Early, will enable users to remotely conduct reconnaissance and secure real-time intelligence while remaining out of harm’s way. The companies will use Commercial Off-The-Shelf (COTS) technology to the greatest extent possible to rapidly produce and deploy the new robot, which is expected to be in production and ready for delivery in 2008.
The SUGV Early will be a smaller, lighter version of the combat-proven iRobot PackBot(R), which is used daily in Iraq and Afghanistan to safely disarm Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs) and search buildings, caves and tunnels for hostile forces. The SUGV Early’s smaller size and advanced capabilities will allow life-saving robotic technology to be used by a far broader group of users than the current PackBot.
“The SUGV Early is light enough to be carried long distances and easy enough to operate so that we believe it could become a standard tool for infantry squads and SWAT teams,” said Vice Admiral Joe Dyer (U.S. Navy, Ret.), president of iRobot Government & Industrial Robots. “By teaming with Boeing, we can leverage their system-of-system capabilities and global marketing strength to quickly get these life-saving robots into the hands of our troops, first responders and allies worldwide.”
Boeing and iRobot will jointly market the new SUGV Early robot. Boeing will also contribute expertise in systems integration, large-volume production and global marketing, while iRobot will design, develop and manufacture the robot using its proven experience with the iRobot PackBot and its development work on the U.S. Army’s Future Combat Systems program.
“This teaming agreement allows iRobot and Boeing to combine our expertise, capabilities and resources to rapidly deliver a powerful new tool to the current forces as well as civilian and commercial users,” said Dennis Muilenburg, vice president-general manager, Boeing Combat Systems. “We see ground robots as a major new growth market and iRobot, as the industry leader in this field, is our partner of choice to bring new robot technology to market.”
To date, more than 900 iRobot PackBot robots have been delivered to a broad range of military and civilian customers worldwide. The robots have performed tens of thousands of missions in Iraq and Afghanistan and are credited with saving soldiers’ lives.
About iRobot Corp.
iRobot is a provider of robots that perform dull, dirty or dangerous missions in a better way. The company’s proprietary technology, iRobot AWARE Robot Intelligence Systems, incorporates advanced concepts in navigation, mobility, manipulation and artificial intelligence. This proprietary system enables iRobot to build behavior-based robots, including its family of consumer and military robots.
About Boeing Integrated Defense Systems
A unit of The Boeing Company, Boeing Integrated Defense Systems is one of the world’s largest space and defense businesses specializing in innovative and capabilities-driven customer solutions. Headquartered in St. Louis, Boeing Integrated Defense Systems is a $32.4 billion business with 72,000 employees worldwide.