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Boeing, iRobot team to develop PackBot replacement, the SUGV Early

Nilay Patel

We spotted the SUGV peeking out behind the curtain last year as iRobot introduced the Warrior, and now we've got the lowdown, as Boeing and iRobot this week announced a partnership bringing together iRobot's non-vacuum skills and Boeing's penchant for sci-fi warfare. The two companies are collaborating on the replacement for iRobot's extremely successful Packbot, which has performed thousands of dangerous missions in Iraq and Afghanistan. Like the PackBot, the 30-pound SUGV Early can be deployed by a single soldier and features a video camera, infrared sensors, and enough smarts to navigate most obstacles semi-autonomously. Naturally, iRobot will be in charge of most of the design work, while Boeing is being tapped for its vast experience with systems integration, mass production, and global marketing. As a result of this partnership, the SUGV should be rolling out in 2008, with full-scale deployment in 2010. No plans are being made to weaponize these 'bots (yet), but what we really want to know is when iRobot is just going to to go all the way and start cranking out Johnny Five clones.

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