Feeds

iRobot buys underwater minisub-droid firm

Roomba maker to clean up on sea floor

Boost IT visibility and business value

iRobot Corp, famed as the manufacturer of the "Roomba" autonomous floor-cleaner, has bought underwater robot maker Nekton Research - suppliers of droid submarines to the US military.

“We believe that the underwater market is the next frontier for robots,” said Helen Greiner, iRobot co-founder.

“This acquisition positions us for leadership in robot solutions on both the land and sea.”

iRobot has already made substantial sales of ground-crawling machine warriors such as the PackBot to the US armed forces, in addition to its civil products. The company has also recently licenced US government-funded "Seaglider" technology from the University of Washington.

“Nekton’s Ranger will be a strong complement to the Seaglider we have licensed from the University of Washington," said Joe Dyer, chief of industrial and gov gear at iRobot.

"With these two unmanned underwater vehicles (UUVs) we will be better positioned to meet the needs of our customers.”

iRobot will pay $10m for Nekton, plus a further $5m conditional on "achievement of certain business and financial milestones". It's expected that Nekton will bring in revenues of $6m to $8m in 2008 from its existing customers. These include the Office of Naval Research, US Special Operations Command and the renowned Pentagon wingnut-boffinry arm, DARPA.

It's planned that iRobot will provide cash and support necessary for Nekton to produce a new and more capable version of its existing "Ranger" robo-minisub.

“We are extremely happy to be joining the iRobot team," said Rick Vosburgh, former Nekton president and now iRobot Executive Director, Maritime Systems.

“We expect to be offering a next-generation Ranger by late 2009, which would not have been possible without iRobot.”

There are already large numbers of underwater remotely-operated vehicles. However, these typically use a cable link to human operators on the surface, as wireless high-bandwidth comms through water are extremely difficult to achieve. There are a few machines which can carry out simple tasks independently under water - such as the Talisman from BAE Systems - but iRobot are probably right to say that there's still room left in the subsea droid market. ®

Boost IT visibility and business value

More from The Register

next story
iPad? More like iFAD: We reveal why Apple fell into IBM's arms
But never fear fanbois, you're still lapping up iPhones, Macs
Sonos AXES support for Apple's iOS4 and 5
Want to use your iThing? You can't - it's too old
Philip K Dick 'Nazi alternate reality' story to be made into TV series
Amazon Studios, Ridley Scott firm to produce The Man in the High Castle
You! Pirate! Stop pirating, or we shall admonish you politely. Repeatedly, if necessary
And we shall go about telling people you smell. No, not really
Too many IT conferences to cover? MICROSOFT to the RESCUE!
Yet more word of cuts emerges from Redmond
Joe Average isn't worth $10 a year to Mark Zuckerberg
The Social Network deflates the PC resurgence with mobile-only usage prediction
Chips are down at Broadcom: Thousands of workers laid off
Cellphone baseband device biz shuttered
Feel free to BONK on the TUBE, says Transport for London
Plus: Almost NOBODY uses pay-by-bonk on buses - Visa
Amazon says Hachette should lower ebook prices, pay authors more
Oh yeah ... and a 30% cut for Amazon to seal the deal
prev story

Whitepapers

Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
Consolidation: The Foundation for IT Business Transformation
In this whitepaper learn how effective consolidation of IT and business resources can enable multiple, meaningful business benefits.
Backing up Big Data
Solving backup challenges and “protect everything from everywhere,” as we move into the era of big data management and the adoption of BYOD.
Boost IT visibility and business value
How building a great service catalog relieves pressure points and demonstrates the value of IT service management.
Why and how to choose the right cloud vendor
The benefits of cloud-based storage in your processes. Eliminate onsite, disk-based backup and archiving in favor of cloud-based data protection.