Robots Eager to Assist

Air Force explosive ordnance disposal teams will soon have more treads on the ground in Afghanistan thanks to Boeing and partner iRobot. That’s because the Air Force has taken delivery of the first 30 Small Unmanned Ground Vehicles optimized for “EOD, route clearance, and reconnaissance,” Boeing announced Monday. The SUGVs’ “light weight and state-of-the-art capabilities” enable EOD teams to easily transport them, allowing these airmen to “deploy the robot at a moment’s notice when faced with a variety of dangerous missions,” explained Robert Moses, head of iRobot’s government and industrial division. Last October, the Air Force awarded a contract for the two companies to supply up to 70 SUGVs through September 2012. Lead contractor Boeing provides contracting and program management, while iRobot designs and builds the tracked vehicles at its facility in Bedford, Mass.