iRobot enters the FCS matrix

iRobot Corp has finalised a contract worth an estimated $32 million to develop a next-generation Small Unmanned Ground Vehicle for the US Army’s Future Combat Systems program.

Burlington-based iRobot Corp has recently finalised a contract worth an estimated $32 million to develop a next-generation Small Unmanned Ground Vehicle for the US Army’s Future Combat Systems (FCS) program.

According to iRobot Corp, the Small Unmanned Ground Vehicle (SUGV) is a portable, reconnaissance and tactical robot that can enter and secure areas that are either inaccessible or too dangerous for humans. SUGVs act as eyes and ears for soldiers, providing real-time intelligence while allowing the soldiers to stay out of harm’s way.

“Robots like the SUGV are transforming the way wars are fought today in places like Iraq and Afghanistan, and well into the future, helping to ensure that our soldiers can react quickly and decisively to unforeseen challenges,” said Vice Admiral Joe Dyer (US Navy, Retired), executive vice president and general manager of iRobot’s Government & Industrial Robotics division.

“The FCS program is at the forefront of a revolution in military technology, and iRobot is honoured to be entrusted with such an important component of the program.”

iRobot joins 22 other partners selected as part of a “Best of Industry” team to lead the development and demonstration phase of the Army program. Boeing and Science Applications International Corporation (SAIC) together serve as the Lead Systems Integrator for FCS.

FCS is a networked “system of systems” composed of 18 components, from troop carriers and self-propelled artillery to robots, unmanned ground vehicles, unmanned aerial vehicles and sensors.

It uses advanced communications and other technologies to link soldiers with the components of the system, giving them access to data that can provide a much more accurate picture of the combat environment than is currently available. The new equipment will replace many of the heavier tanks and other vehicles that have been in the Army’s inventory for decades.

FCS is said to be on a “fast track” to development, with full production planned to begin in 2010. System Development and Demonstration is expected to cost $14.9 billion, and be completed by 2008.

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