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iRobot Teams With Taser for Armed Robots Print E-mail

Although its more commonly known for its floor-cleaning robots, iRobot also contracts out to law enforcement and the Pentagon. A new robot could soon be armed to assist soldiers and law enforcement.

The company said Thursday that it teamed up with the maker of Tasers to incorporate the technology into robots that it builds for its clients. The first prototype of a model using the technology will be shown off at a Taser conference in Chicago, July 9-10.

Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed, and iRobot has not said how much the units would sell for.

 

iRobot used its PackBot line for its Taser-enabled robots. The vehicle is designed to investigate hazardous areas, and can be hand carried and driven by a single operator. The modular design of these devices made adding Taser simple, the company says.

About 1,000 of the robots have already been deployed, and iRobot said that some of them are helping to detect and defuse IEDs in Iraq and Afghanistan.

"The addition of TASER technologies onto iRobot platforms will provide a critical tool for SWAT, law enforcement and military to handle a variety of dangerous scenarios," the company's government and industry division president Vice Admiral Joe Dyer said.

There is opposition to iRobot's moves. Taser has recently come under fire due to several instances where a Taser gun shock has actually proven fatal. The stun gun is intended to only subdue a suspect, not inflict a lethal blow.

Others say that iRobot's steps only mean an autonomous robot capable of deciding on its own when to shoot and kill. "It's one more step in that direction," GlobalSecurity.org director John Pike told the Associated Press Thursday.

"I think at some point toward the end of the next decade, you're going to start seeing RoboCops, or a Terminator. We may see autonomous robots capable of inflicting lethal force."

iRobot denied that is where the industry is going, saying that is far beyond what is being announced this week.

Source

 
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