There are many uses for robots ranging from entertainment to military and iRobot is one American company that develops robots for much of this spectrum. Other than their toy robots such as My Real Baby and household helper robots such as Roomba and Scooba, iRobot has large contracts with the U.S. military to develop remote controlled robots for use in the battlefield. One of those is the Packbot specifically designed for reconnaissance and explosive ordnance disposal (EOD) missions.
Last week, iRobot introduced the second generation of their military robot the Packbot 510. According to the press release (read here),
PackBot 510 uses a new game-style hand controller for faster training and easier operation in the field. In addition, the robot is 30 percent faster, drags larger objects, lifts twice the weight and has a grip that is three times stronger than its predecessor.
There are at least 800 Packbots in action today in war zones in the Middle East such as Iraq and Afganistan. The robots are saving soldier’s lives and the new robot will help them perform their duties more safely and efficiently. The Packbot 510 will start shipping in April 2007.