iRobot military bots to patrol 2014 World Cup in Brazil

The battle-tested PackBot 510 will join soldiers, police, and drones to keep the World Cup safe from threats. Will these 30 bots kick a ball around too?

The PackBot 510 provides users with real-time video, audio, and sensor data to evaluate explosives and other hazards. iRobot

FIFA may be implementing goal-sensing technology in international soccer games, but the World Cup is getting even more high-tech with military robot security.

iRobot announced today $7.2 million in contracts to provide Brazil with military PackBot robots for security at the 2014 World Cup. PackBots have been deployed to Afghanistan, Iraq, and even inside Japan's crippled Fukushima nuclear power plant.

As part of the deal, Brazil will get 30 PackBot 510 units, which usually cost about $100,000 to $200,000 apiece. The contracts include services, spares, and associated equipment.

The camera-equipped, remote-operated robots can give users a close-up look at suspicious objects, or explore dangerous environments, while keeping operators safe from harm.

The PackBots will be working alongside thousands of soldiers deployed to each of the 12 host cities in Brazil.

To spot troublemakers, Brazilian police will be equipped with facial-recognition camera glasses that reportedly can capture 400 facial images per second, storing them in a central database of up to 13 million faces.

The country reportedly purchased four Israeli-made drones to help with security for the FIFA Confederations Cup next month. It is spending $900 million to boost its security forces ahead of the World Cup, including surveillance equipment and helicopters, in a bid to make it "one of the most protected sports events in history."

No word yet on whether the PackBots will take to the soccer pitch for some RoboCup -style play.

 

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