Boeing and iRobot sign Early pact

Boeing and iRobot Corporation have signed a teaming agreement to design and develop a next-generation, small unmanned ground vehicle (SUGV) dubbed the SUGV Early.

According to Boeing, the vehicle will provide military, civil and commercial users with unprecedented reconnaissance and secure, real-time intelligence capabilities.

The SUGV Early will be a smaller, lighter version of the iRobot PackBot, which is used in Iraq and Afghanistan to disarm Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs) and search buildings, caves and tunnels for hostile forces. To date, iRobot has delivered more than 900 PackBot robots to military and civilian customers worldwide.

The remotely operated SUGV Early will feature a video camera and commercial electro-optics, infrared sensors mounted on an articulated manipulator arm and a track-driven chassis that will allow it to negotiate rough terrain and stairs.

The 30lb unit, which can be carried in a backpack, is designed for use in hazardous situations, such as bomb disposal and disaster relief operations. The system, which utilises commercial off-the-shelf technology and employs the basic design of future networked robotic systems currently under development for the US Army, will be ready for delivery in 2008.