December 13, 2007 Known for an array of intelligent machines from home helpers to military aides, iRobot has just announced an upgrade to its PackBot with the addition of a Mapping Kit. They new payload is designed enhance the ability of soldiers to manage the dangers of search, surveillance and reconnaissance missions.
PackBot with Mapping Kit is the first field tested and deployed robot to integrate real-time mapping and semi-autonomous remote operational capabilities. This means soldiers have advanced situational awareness while they remain a safe distance from harm. The technology is the result of years of research and development. Through a combination of sensors and artificial intelligence, PackBot with Mapping Kit can relay a real-time two-dimensional structural map of the environment it is moving through back to its operator, while simultaneously detecting and avoiding obstacles in its path. The soldier still maintains control of the robot, but if an obstacle is encountered, PackBot is capable of autonomously changing course to avoid imminent collisions.
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Thinking about buying a PackBot for your backyard missions? Sorry, this little bundle of joy is only available to research and development labs in government, industry and academia.
iRobot also recently announced an alliance with TASER to created TASER-wielding robots that can be sent in place of police to incapacitate violent suspects. Future developments will include a 3-D Flash Laser Radar sensor for unmanned ground vehicles allowing future advancements of the Mapping Kit to provide soldiers with a robust mapping and obstacle avoidance capability.
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