iRobot, QinetiQ machines to assist in Japan relief effort

A few weeks ago, it looked like robots would play a relatively small role in recovery efforts following the earthquake and subsequent nuclear crisis in Japan, but as concern grows over radiation leaks, robotics companies are positioning their mechanical offspring to do jobs deemed unsafe for humans. We've already heard of Aldebaran's plans for a fleet of rescue bots, and now QinetiQ and iRobot are lending automated assistance to the cause. QinetiQ plans to send in a set of Robotic Applique Kits -- used to convert Bobcat loaders into unmanned vehicles -- along with sensor machines like the TALON and Dragon. Meanwhile, iRobot's enlisted two each of its PackBots and Warriors to help aid in recovery -- the former is used by the US military for bomb disposal. Both companies have already deployed teams to Japan for training.