Just last month, we told you about JIEDDO’s plans to send 400 small, throwable robots to Afghanistan for operational user tests to help identify new tools to get left of the boom on the increasing number of IEDs being planted by insurgents.
While those tests are ongoing, we found out today that 'bot maker ReconRobotics has secured the largest throwable robot sale in the U.S. Army’s history, inking a $13.9 million deal with the Rapid Equipping Force for 1,100 of the 1.2-lb. Recon Scout XT robots. The company also announced $1 million worth of accessory orders to the Army, all of which will be delivered by June. Over just the past six months, the company has sold over 1,800 Recon Scout XT’s to the Pentagon.
The deal isn't part of JIEDDO's testing program, which came in response to an urgent request from commanders in Afghanistan who are looking for small, lightweight camera-mounted robots that can peek into culverts (a favorite place for Taliban fighters to hide IEDs) and toss over the tall mud walls that surround many homes. JIEDDO has identified four different 'bots that met the operational requirements, and began testing them last summer while working with the manufacturers to tweak their designs.
The four ‘bots selected include the Armadillo, a 5.5 lb. system made by MacroUSA; QinetiQ’s Dragon Runner 10, a 10 lb. design; iRobot’s 5 lb. FirstLook; and Recon Robotics’ 1.2 lb. ReconScout XT.
A word of advice: if you’re in Afghanistan this summer you might want to keep an eye peeled, since it looks like there'll be ‘bots flying all over the place.