iRobot Corporation of Bedford, Massachusetts released a slimmed down and affordable robot capable of climbing stairs and evaluating potential dangers faced by law enforcement, firemen, and other public safety officials. Based on its military robot, the PackBot, the Negotiator robot identifies bombs and hazardous chemicals, assists with search and rescue operations, and provides surveillance of dangerous areas including those in urban areas.
The water resistant robot is just 25 inches long, 16 inches wide (21 inches with optional flippers attached), and 7.6 inches tall. It weighs 34 pounds with batteries installed and is capable of traveling 3.1 miles per hour on its own power. Each Negotiator robot includes a color video camera and a low light infrared camera, an infrared LED array for illuminating dark surroundings, two nickel metal hydride (NiMH) batteries (capable of providing 3-6 hours of power depending on the usage profile), and a payload bay to hold one of several optional add-on modules. Some of the available optional modules include a day/night pan and tilt camera system, a rear mounted flood light, and a gas monitor. A pair of flippers that allow movement over a wider variety of terrains and in harsh weather conditions are also available as an optional additional purchase.†
The system also includes a rapid charging system with the appropriate cables to use it, a Jabra headset for two way communication with the module, and an operator control system with a joystick for controlling the robot remotely and a video monitor showing what its cameras are viewing in real time. The system also allows close monitoring of battery life during a mission. The control system weighs 8.5 pounds and includes its own NiMH battery.†
While specific pricing is not specified on the iRobot website, the Negotiator is meant to be a lower cost alternative to the larger and more powerful PackBot system designed for military use. iRobot also offers information about and assistance in applying for a variety of grants that help public safety officials in the United States purchase Negotiator robots using federal Homeland Security funds.†