iRobot’s 2nd Quarter results have already gone way beyond analyst’s expectations but the Roomba-maker is still not showing signs of slowing down. Just this week, they received an order of 94 more SUGVs.
That order, which is part of a $14.6 million contract, will enable the US Army to acquire new SUGV 310’s (more about this robot below) from iRobot, which has partnered with Boeing in building them.
According to iRobot’s latest Revenue and Earnings Report, Government & Industrial robot revenue increased 65 percent in the second quarter over the second quarter of 2009, driven by shipments of 138 PackBot robots and 100 Small Unmanned Ground Vehicles during the quarter.
SUGVs or Small Unmanned Ground Vehicles are small, 30-pound, portable robots that can fit in a MOLLE (MOdular Lightweight Load-carrying Equipment) pack. iRobot SUGVs come in 2 main variants: the 310, for dismounted mobile operations, and the 320, for infantry missions.
The two versions come with game-style hand controllers and heads-up displays, which allow the soldier/operator to control the robot remotely via UHF radio frequency. Under optimal conditions, the robot can be controlled from a distance of 1,000 m. That’s usually more than enough to put the human soldier out of harm’s way.
The 310 SUGV is already equipped with a dexterous manipulator, making it suitable not only for surveillance and reconnaissance, but also for bomb disposal, checkpoint, and inspection operations. These operations are considered high-risk, and have already cost the lives of many human soldiers. By using these robots, less lives are lost. Besides, some blown up robots can be put together again.
Both robots are smaller versions of another highly successful iRobot product, the Packbot. A veteran of the war in Iraq and an active participant of the one ongoing in Afghanistan, the Packbot is one of the most widely used robots in the battlefield. There are no less than 2,000 Packbots in operation today.
Under the Army’s Brigade Combat Team Modernization (BCTM) program, iRobot is currently developing the next-generation SUGVs.