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iRobot preps pared-down PackBot for civilians

Priced for budget-minded municipalities, the stair-climbing, reconnaissance-capable Negotiator robot seems to be a smaller, less expensive version of the military PackBot.

The Negotiator, iRobot's latest addition to its industrial robot line. iRobot

iRobot announced a new addition to its lineup of industrial robots Wednesday.

The Negotiator, another tactical mobile robot that can climb stairs, seems to be a pared down, civilian version of the PackBot.

Like the PackBot, the Negotiator can climb stairs, work by remote control, and be outfitted with tools for reconnaissance and chemical detection.

iRobot already offers a version of the PackBot 510 with a kit for first responders. While some municipalities have adopted it, the PackBot hasn't exactly become a common sight at your local police station.

It seems that iRobot has finally realized that the PackBot, while fine for military units with large budgets, was just too expensive for local government agencies to adopt.

"We believe that the low entry price point for iRobot Negotiator will help make it accessible to local, state and federal agencies that would not have been able to afford a robot otherwise," Joe Dyer, president of iRobot's Government and Industrial Robots division, said in a statement.

The Negotiator will be available in the fourth quarter of 2008 for about $20,000, according to iRobot.

iRobot's Negotiator. iRobot
iRobot's PackBot 510 outfitted with the offered iRobot First Responder Kit iRobot