IRobot has released a video of its 710 Warrior robot firing a weapon designed specifically to breach enemy anti-personnel obstacles such as minefields and multi-strand wire, reports John Palmisano at IEEE Spectrum’s Automation blog.
The Anti-Personnel Obstacle Breaching System fired by the Warrior robot consists of an explosive line charge deployed by a rocket that pulls a rope with a string of fragmentation grenades attached and a small parachute at the opposite end. The explosive line charge, which the robot fires from a distance of 35 meters, can clear a path 45 meters wide.
The 710 Warrior is a more sturdy version of the company’s well-known PackBot, and is capable of carrying payloads of about 150 pounds. In addition to route clearing, the robot also is designed for bomb removal and surveillance and reconnaissance missions, according to the company’s Web site.
Until recently, iRobot had been against the weaponization of robots, Palmisano notes, speculating that perhaps business and financial pressures have compelled the company to change course.
One point worth considering is that the military market is becoming increasingly important to the company, as shown by its first quarter 2010 results. The company’s finances were tight in 2009, so iRobot officials may now view military systems as a market they wish to grow.