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U.S. Army Invests $32 Million in New Robots

(April 13, 2004 - NEWSdial.com) iRobot Corp. announced that it has finalized a contract worth an estimated $32 million to develop a next-generation Small Unmanned Ground Vehicle for the U.S. Army's groundbreaking Future Combat Systems (FCS) program. The Small Unmanned Ground Vehicle (SUGV) is a portable, reconnaissance and tactical robot that can enter and secure areas that are either inaccessible or too dangerous for humans. SUGVs act as eyes and ears for soldiers, providing real-time intelligence while allowing the soldiers to stay out of harm's way.

"Robots like the SUGV are transforming the way wars are fought today in places like Iraq and Afghanistan, and well into the future, helping to ensure that our soldiers can react quickly and decisively to unforeseen challenges," said Vice Admiral Joe Dyer (U.S. Navy, Ret.), executive vice president and general manager of iRobot's Government & Industrial Robotics division. "The FCS program is at the forefront of a revolution in military technology, and iRobot is honored to be entrusted with such an important component of the program."

The new contract will allow iRobot to grow its engineering department by over 15 percent in 2004 alone. iRobot joins 22 other partners selected as part of a "Best of Industry" team to lead the development and demonstration phase of the Army program. Boeing (NYSE:BA) and Science Applications International Corporation (SAIC) together serve as the Lead Systems Integrator for FCS.

FCS is a networked "system of systems" composed of 18 components, from troop carriers and self-propelled artillery to robots, unmanned ground vehicles, unmanned aerial vehicles and sophisticated sensors. It uses advanced communications and other technologies to link soldiers with the components of the system, giving them access to data that can provide a much more accurate picture of the combat environment than is now available. The new equipment will replace many of the heavier tanks and other vehicles that have been in the Army's inventory for decades.

Dennis Muilenburg, vice president and FCS program manager at Boeing, said: "Today iRobot joins what is the Army's most ambitious and visionary project. The FCS program will employ cutting-edge technology to give our soldiers the best intelligence, combat options and clear advantage on the battlefield. The Army is also breaking new ground in how it works with the private sector to develop FCS. iRobot is now part of a partnership forged between the Army, the LSI team of Boeing and SAIC, and its partners selected to lead the development of the major components of FCS."

FCS is on a "fast track" to development, with full production planned to begin in 2010. System Development and Demonstration is expected to cost $14.9 billion, and be completed by 2008. The LSI and government selected its major industry partners after an exhaustive evaluation of hundreds of proposals received earlier this year.

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