Skip to Content

Military Robots to Get a Virtual Touch

A modified game controller will give military bomb-disposal experts remote touch.

iRobot, the company that makes military robots as well as the Roomba vacuuming bot, announced last Friday that it will receive funding for several endeavors from the Robotics Technology Consortium (RTC).

One project will see the company develop controllers that give remote robot operators sensory feedback. The US military currently uses iRobot’s wheeled PackBot in Iraq and Afghanistan for tasks such as bomb disposal, detecting hazardous materials and carrying equipment.

The company says that adding force sensing to a PackBot arm could give operators the ability to “feel” the weight of an object or whether it is hard or soft, via the robot’s arms.

iRobot plans to use an enhanced version of the Novint Falcon haptic controller–a device designed for computer games that provides a remote sense of touch to the user.

According to the president of iRobot’s Government and Industrial Robots division Joe Dyer:

“[This] would greatly improve warfighters’ ability to examine and manipulate improvised explosive devices (IEDs) and reduce their time on task, ultimately keeping them safer,”

The RTC funds will also go toward developing better sniper detection and a sensing robotic head for the UGVs.

Keep Reading

Most Popular

A Roomba recorded a woman on the toilet. How did screenshots end up on Facebook?

Robot vacuum companies say your images are safe, but a sprawling global supply chain for data from our devices creates risk.

A startup says it’s begun releasing particles into the atmosphere, in an effort to tweak the climate

Make Sunsets is already attempting to earn revenue for geoengineering, a move likely to provoke widespread criticism.

10 Breakthrough Technologies 2023

Every year, we pick the 10 technologies that matter the most right now. We look for advances that will have a big impact on our lives and break down why they matter.

These exclusive satellite images show that Saudi Arabia’s sci-fi megacity is well underway

Weirdly, any recent work on The Line doesn’t show up on Google Maps. But we got the images anyway.

Stay connected

Illustration by Rose Wong

Get the latest updates from
MIT Technology Review

Discover special offers, top stories, upcoming events, and more.

Thank you for submitting your email!

Explore more newsletters

It looks like something went wrong.

We’re having trouble saving your preferences. Try refreshing this page and updating them one more time. If you continue to get this message, reach out to us at customer-service@technologyreview.com with a list of newsletters you’d like to receive.