Feeds

Robot vacuum cleaners - now with grenade launchers

Drudge-droid rebellion could be messy

Secure remote control for conventional and virtual desktops

Many people believe that famed cybernetics company iRobot only makes droid vacuum cleaners - for instance the nifty yet slatternly "Roomba" autodrudge. But iRobot also makes more sinister machines, for instance the new "Warrior X700", which it has just sold to the US Army's tanks'n'trucks R&D arm.

Weighing about 450 pounds all up - about the same as a middling quad bike - iRobot describe their latest battle-bot as "a powerful and rugged" machine.

The iRobot Warrior in explosive-ordnance disposal configuration

Alternatively the droid can pound things with a rock

“We are confident that the iRobot Warrior will secure a strong foothold,” said Joe Dyer, iRobot gov'n'biz bot-boss.

The company says that it sold two prototype Warriors to the US Army Tank-Automotive Research, Development and Engineering Center (TARDEC) for $3.75m last week.

The machine warriors can carry almost any payload up to 150lb or so, on a unique sliding fore-and-aft platform which lets them maintain their balance going over obstacles, up stairs etc. An iRobot Warrior can be fitted with various kinds of grappler arms, bomb-disposal gear, hazardous-materials kit and so on.

But iRobot also specifies that the machine is good for "building clearance", "SWAT" or other "Weaponised Missions". Company literature (pdf) shows the droid fitted with a "Metal Storm" quad-barrel superimposed grenade launcher, able to spurt out sixteen 40mm frag warheads in a fraction of a second.

And that's not the only trick the heavily-armed vacuum cleaner firm has up its sleeve. It has also been reported that the company is exhibiting its smaller PackBot wardroid - almost two thousand of which are already in US service - with a crafty new feature.

The new gadget in question is the Head Aimed Remote Viewer (HARV) turret. This is a small pan-tilt unit which can be fitted with various lights and imaging options - thermal, nightsight etc. The clever bit is that the human operator remotely driving the robot wears video goggles with motion sensors in them - and it's these which swivel the cam turret. Thus the operator's hands and feet are freed to handle weapons, locomotion etc and the vision systems look automatically where he wants them to look. (Pdf here.)

Now that's fiendishly cunning, and definitely helping to mitigate the "drinking-straw" limited view problems of remote cameras. It could also go well with vehicle-mounted or standalone robo-cannon systems like the PAWS, also just reaching the market.

Or indeed it could work well with any reasonably responsive PTZ web/net cam. ®

Next gen security for virtualised datacentres

More from The Register

next story
Vulture 2 takes a battering in 100km/h test run
Still in one piece, but we're going to need MORE POWER
Boffins ID freakish spine-smothered prehistoric critter: The CLAW gave it away
Bizarre-looking creature actually related to velvet worms
TRIANGULAR orbits will help Rosetta to get up close with Comet 67P
Probe will be just 10km from Space Duck in October
CRR-CRRRK, beep, beep: Mars space truck backs out of slippery sand trap
Curiosity finds new drilling target after course correction
ANU boffins demo 'tractor beam' in water
The current state of the art, apparently
China to test recoverable moon orbiter
I'll have some rocks and a moon cheese pizza please, home delivery
What does a flashmob of 1,024 robots look like? Just like this
Sorry, Harvard, did you say kilobots or KILLER BOTS?
NASA's rock'n'roll shock: ROLLING STONE FOUND ON MARS
No sign of Ziggy Stardust and his band
Why your mum was WRONG about whiffy tattooed people
They're a future source of RENEWABLE ENERGY
prev story

Whitepapers

5 things you didn’t know about cloud backup
IT departments are embracing cloud backup, but there’s a lot you need to know before choosing a service provider. Learn all the critical things you need to know.
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.
Build a business case: developing custom apps
Learn how to maximize the value of custom applications by accelerating and simplifying their development.
Rethinking backup and recovery in the modern data center
Combining intelligence, operational analytics, and automation to enable efficient, data-driven IT organizations using the HP ABR approach.
Next gen security for virtualised datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.