Army orders ground robots for engineer, infantry support

The Army has placed an order for 486 of iRobot’s PackBot 510s, the largest order the company has ever received, iRobot officials said.

The $35.3 million order is from the U.S. Army's TACOM Contracting Center in Warren, Mich. This latest order adds to a recent trend of the Defense Department ordering and using the unmanned systems in battle settings.

This most recent order is part of the xBot contract, which has had about $125 million worth of orders so far, company officials said Sept. 1.

“Not only is it the single largest order we have ever received from the military, but it also proves that there is strong and continuing support for our PackBot FasTac platform that was introduced just last year,” said Joe Dyer, president of iRobot Government and Industrial Robots. The robot "is well-suited for use by combat engineers, route clearance companies and infantry brigades.”

The PackBot 510 with FasTac Kit provides warfighters with the ability to see and assess dangerous areas from safe standoff distances and to clear routes while on the move. The robot is controlled through a ruggedized laptop with a game-style controller, operates at speeds of up to 5.8 miles per hour and provides up to four hours of mission run time.

The PackBot 510’s compact arm and precise gripper allow warfighters to safely pick up and identify suspicious objects.

iRobot, of Bedford, Mass., has delivered to the U.S. military more than 2,500 PackBot robots, company officials said.