iRobot Corp. (NASDAQ: IRBT) announced the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) and the U.S. Army Research Office have awarded the company a new multi-year, multi-million dollar R&D project to develop Chemical Robots (ChemBots). The goal of this program is to develop a soft, flexible, mobile robot that can identify and maneuver through openings smaller than its actual structural dimensions to perform Department of Defense (DoD) tasks within complex and highly cluttered environments.
As the established leader in innovative robotics research and development, iRobot will lead a team composed of leading technical experts from Harvard University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) to incorporate advances in chemistry, materials science, actuator technologies, electronics, sensors and fabrication techniques into ChemBots engineering. The resulting revolutionary new robot platform designs will expand the capabilities of robots in urban search and rescue, as well as reconnaissance missions.
“During military operations it can be important to gain covert access to denied or hostile space. Unmanned platforms such as mechanical robots are of limited effectiveness if the only available points of entry are small openings,” said, Mitchell Zakin, Ph.D., program manager, DARPA. “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.”
“Consistently developing new approaches to solve warfighter challenges with robots has made us a trusted DARPA partner,” said Helen Greiner, co-founder and chairman of iRobot. “Through this program, robots that reconstitute size, shape and functionality after traversal through complex environments will transcend the pages of science fiction to become real tools for soldiers in theatre.”
This ChemBots award is the latest in a series of DARPA project awards won within the past 10 years. DARPA initially approached iRobot in 1998 to create the PackBot for its Tactical Mobile Robot program. More recently, iRobot received an award under the DARPA LANdroids program to develop a new portable communications relay robot that is small, inexpensive, intelligent and robust.
To date, iRobot has delivered more than 1,500 PackBot robots to a broad range of military and civilian customers worldwide, and continues to enhance this technology with its next-generation PackBot 510.
DARPA is the central R&D organization for the Department of Defense dedicated to sponsoring revolutionary, high-payoff research and development that maintains the technological superiority of the U.S. military. The content of this release does not necessarily reflect the position or the policies of the U.S. Government.
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 System, 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. For additional information about iRobot, please visit http://www.irobot.com.
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