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October 12, 2014

Soldiers will soon steer iRobot’s machines with an Android tablet

by John_A

While iRobot’s most famous for creating the Roomba, the robotic vacuum is far from being its only product: the company actually supplies defense, reconnaissance and first response machines to authorities, as well. In an effort to make these robots a lot easier to control in high-stress environments, iRobot has developed the uPoint Multi-Robot Control (MRC) system, which lets human operators navigate their machines using only an Android tablet. At the moment, these robots (all 6,000 of them deployed worldwide) are controlled using an old-school joystick and a separate monitor powered by a Linux-based OS. When uPoint launches, all the soldier/cop handlers need to do is fire up the app and steer their machines by tapping on the screen, effectively nixing the need to train them on the procedure for a few days.

In addition, operators can switch between robots just by switching tabs, share data to team members, as well as capture videos through a robot’s camera and upload the clips to the cloud. The app, by the way, communicates with the machines through the company’s new uPoint Robot Radio network, since Bluetooth might not be secure enough for sensitive situations. The system’s slated to come out by the second quarter of 2015, though we doubt you’d get to use it unless you control a fleet of ground robots for the government.

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Source: iRobot, The Wall Street Journal

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