iRobot (yes, that iRobot) is filling their first order from the US military for 100 PackBot robots fitted with new ICx Fido explosive detectors. Already, there are an estimated 5,000 robots of various types deployed in Iraq and Afghanistan -- up from 150 in 2004 -- with $1.7 billion earmarked for ground-based military robots through 2012. So just how did military personal detect bombs in the olden days? Well, soldiers would stand back as far as possible with a rope and drag hooks over the suspected piles of rubble or abandoned vehicles in hopes of disarming or detonating them. With an estimated 70% of all US causalities in Iraq caused by road-side bombs, the $165,000 PackBot will certainly receive a warm welcome by the boots on the ground.

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iRobot's PackBot now ready for deployment