iRobot is kind of a strange company. It seems like half the engineering team is hard at work on helpful little slavebots -- Roomba, Scooba, and the new Dirt Dog -- that aid common folk with their domestic chores, while the other half has seen Terminator one too many times and is all about building autonomous military vehicles that can be weaponized and transformed into killbots. Case in point is the new 250-pound Warrior (pictured above), formerly known as the NEOmover, which will officially be unveiled next week at the U.S. Army Annual Meeting & Exposition (it's like CES, except everyone is packing heat and telling glorified war stories). Initially Warrior -- along with another new bot, the 30-pound Small Unmanned Ground Vehicle (or SUGV, pictured after the break) -- will be tasked with duties to similar to their predecessor, the PackBot: hauling around gear for troops, scouting out potentially dangerous locations, and sacrificing their young lives by literally jumping on the grenade (or land mine, or IED). However, Robot Stock News reports that iRobot Chairperson Helen Grenier has already discussed outfitting the mechanized fleet with guns and missiles, allowing them to mow down the enemy in between more humanitarian work like firefighting and battlefield extraction. Now we would never suggest that technology capable of keeping our soldiers out of harm's way should be discouraged, but we've seen Robocop one too many times and know what can happen when you strap heavy artillery onto an angry robot. Anyway, here's to hoping that by the time these bots get all decked out with machine guns and RPGs, the only enemy "troops" they'll ever face are the kind that South Korea is on the verge of deploying -- with robots fighting robots, everyone wins.

[Via GoRobotics]

HDTV Listings for October 6, 2006