August 11, 2008 Best known to Gizmag readers for its range of home helper bots, iRobot is now expanding its line-up to include the growing need for public safety robots. The new iRobot Negotiator is a low-cost, tactical robot designed to meet the basic reconnaissance needs of public safety professionals, such as police and fire departments, counter-terrorism forces and domestic security experts.
While the company's PackBot 510 with First Responder Kit focuses on missions requiring a larger robot with more advanced capabilities, Negotiator will provide basic services to a much broader group of public safety professionals. The robot has applications for bomb squads, SWAT teams and surveillance, as well as hazardous material detection. “There is growing support and demand for unmanned ground robots as people recognize the difference they make by offering life saving ‘eyes on’ benefits to teams in the field,” said Joe Dyer, president of iRobot Government and Industrial Robots.
The Negotiator allows operators to see, hear and evaluate dangerous situations from a safe distance. For example, it is able to examine suspicious vehicles, packages and buildings without risk of harm to humans. Depending on the customer’s needs, the robot may be outfitted with a civil response kit and a range of add-on accessories, enhancing its reconnaissance and chemical detection capabilities. Some of the add-on accessories include a pan/tilt day/night camera system (continuous 360° pan, 90° tilt), a low light infrared illuminated camera system, a rear mounted fixed day/ night camera system, a rear mounted light (combination IR and visible flood light system) and the MultiRAE Plus gas monitor detection system.
Operating at speeds up to 3.1 mph (5.0 km/h) the Negotiator is able to climb stairs, plus it is small enough to fit in the trunk of a car. Its two NiMH are good for between 3-6 hours on a single charge depending on the mission profile.
The Negotiator, which will be available for purchase in the fourth quarter of 2008, is being pitched as a robot with a low entry price point (around the US$20K mark) making it accessible to local, state and federal agencies that would not be able to afford a reconnaissance robot otherwise.