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iRobot and Boeing to collaborate on robot

The aerospace giant and maker of the Roomba will team up to make a Small Unmanned Ground Vehicle for military, law enforcement and other first-responders.

iRobot pretty much has both ends of the robot spectrum covered: cute, household cleaning robots and industrial-strength military robots. Monday's announcement that iRobot and Boeing will team up on a military/civilian/commercial robot falls somewhere in the middle.

Small Unmanned Ground Vehicle

The Small Unmanned Ground Vehicle, nicknamed SUGV Early, will weigh less than 30 pounds. That's smaller than iRobot's line of robots currently in use in the Iraq and Afghanistan conflicts to search buildings, caves and tunnels and disarm Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs).

The SUGV Early will perform reconaissance and gather intelligence while operators stand out of harm's way. iRobot hopes the SUGV's smaller frame will mean more military units, law enforcement groups and first responders will be interested. Boeing's end of the deal will be to lend its expertise in systems integration and mass production, along with its global marketing reach.

The new SUGV is expected to be available next year.