iRobot buys underwater minisub-droid firm

Roomba maker to clean up on sea floor


iRobot Corp, famed as the manufacturer of the "Roomba" autonomous floor-cleaner, has bought underwater robot maker Nekton Research - suppliers of droid submarines to the US military.

“We believe that the underwater market is the next frontier for robots,” said Helen Greiner, iRobot co-founder.

“This acquisition positions us for leadership in robot solutions on both the land and sea.”

iRobot has already made substantial sales of ground-crawling machine warriors such as the PackBot to the US armed forces, in addition to its civil products. The company has also recently licenced US government-funded "Seaglider" technology from the University of Washington.

“Nekton’s Ranger will be a strong complement to the Seaglider we have licensed from the University of Washington," said Joe Dyer, chief of industrial and gov gear at iRobot.

"With these two unmanned underwater vehicles (UUVs) we will be better positioned to meet the needs of our customers.”

iRobot will pay $10m for Nekton, plus a further $5m conditional on "achievement of certain business and financial milestones". It's expected that Nekton will bring in revenues of $6m to $8m in 2008 from its existing customers. These include the Office of Naval Research, US Special Operations Command and the renowned Pentagon wingnut-boffinry arm, DARPA.

It's planned that iRobot will provide cash and support necessary for Nekton to produce a new and more capable version of its existing "Ranger" robo-minisub.

“We are extremely happy to be joining the iRobot team," said Rick Vosburgh, former Nekton president and now iRobot Executive Director, Maritime Systems.

“We expect to be offering a next-generation Ranger by late 2009, which would not have been possible without iRobot.”

There are already large numbers of underwater remotely-operated vehicles. However, these typically use a cable link to human operators on the surface, as wireless high-bandwidth comms through water are extremely difficult to achieve. There are a few machines which can carry out simple tasks independently under water - such as the Talisman from BAE Systems - but iRobot are probably right to say that there's still room left in the subsea droid market. ®

Similar topics


Other stories you might like

  • Microsoft unveils Android apps for Windows 11 (for US users only)

    Windows Insiders get their hands on the Windows Subsystem for Android

    Microsoft has further teased the arrival of the Windows Subsystem for Android by detailing how the platform will work via a newly published document for Windows Insiders.

    The document, spotted by inveterate Microsoft prodder "WalkingCat" makes for interesting reading for developers keen to make their applications work in the Windows Subsystem for Android (WSA).

    WSA itself comprises the Android OS based on the Android Open Source Project 1.1 and, like the Windows Subsystem for Linux, runs in a virtual machine.

    Continue reading
  • Software Freedom Conservancy sues TV maker Vizio for GPL infringement

    Companies using GPL software should meet their obligations, lawsuit says

    The Software Freedom Conservancy (SFC), a non-profit which supports and defends free software, has taken legal action against Californian TV manufacturer Vizio Inc, claiming "repeated failures to fulfill even the basic requirements of the General Public License (GPL)."

    Member projects of the SFC include the Debian Copyright Aggregation Project, BusyBox, Git, GPL Compliance Project for Linux Developers, Homebrew, Mercurial, OpenWrt, phpMyAdmin, QEMU, Samba, Selenium, Wine, and many more.

    The GPL Compliance Project is described as "comprised of copyright holders in the kernel, Linux, who have contributed to Linux under its license, the GPLv2. These copyright holders have formally asked Conservancy to engage in compliance efforts for their copyrights in the Linux kernel."

    Continue reading
  • DRAM, it stacks up: SK hynix rolls out 819GB/s HBM3 tech

    Kit using the chips to appear next year at the earliest

    Korean DRAM fabber SK hynix has developed an HBM3 DRAM chip operating at 819GB/sec.

    HBM3 (High Bandwidth Memory 3) is a third generation of the HBM architecture which stacks DRAM chips one above another, connects them by vertical current-carrying holes called Through Silicon Vias (TSVs) to a base interposer board, via connecting micro-bumps, upon which is fastened a processor that accesses the data in the DRAM chip faster than it would through the traditional CPU socket interface.

    Seon-yong Cha, SK hynix's senior vice president for DRAM development, said: "Since its launch of the world's first HBM DRAM, SK hynix has succeeded in developing the industry's first HBM3 after leading the HBM2E market. We will continue our efforts to solidify our leadership in the premium memory market."

    Continue reading

Biting the hand that feeds IT © 1998–2021