updated 09:45 am EST, Wed February 7, 2007
iRobot PackBot 510
Roomba creator iRobot today released its toughened PackBot 510. Although meant for bomb disposal, the updated PackBot features controls deliberately modeled after console gamepads, making it possible for even relatively inexperienced users to steer the robot and grab explosives.
The robot is also much more powerful than its original, the robot maker claims. It moves 30 percent faster, lifts twice the weight, and holds items with three times the gripping force. These improvements help it remove explosives from harsher terrain without a potentially fatal drop. iRobot is shipping the 510 model in April to military and police units internationally; the US Army already expects to use the upgraded model in Afghanistan and Iraq.