Soldiers Bond With Bomb-defusing Bots

Posted on May 23, 2006

A Reuters story says U.S. soldiers in Iraq have bonded with little robots created by iRobot Inc. that defuse bombs. The article says the soldiers have given the robots nicknames and have grieved when one of the robots was damaged.
iRobot Inc. Chief Executive Colin Angle said one group of soldiers even named its robot "Scooby Doo" and grieved when it was blown up after completing 35 successful missions defusing improvised explosive devices.

"Please fix Scooby Doo because he saved my life," a soldier told repair technicians, according to Angle's account at last week's Future in Review technology conference.

The company, which is best known for "Roomba," the robotic vacuum cleaner, and "Scooba," the floor-mopping robot, envisions a machine that would instill similar feelings in civilians.

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Angle did not hesitate when asked if he thinks the bond soldiers have formed with his robots is normal.

"I think it's very rational," he said. "(Scooby Doo) was someone, something, that was doing a great service for them and thus when they brought it back, it was viewed not just as a loss of a machine gun or a piece of body armor or a helmet. It was a loss of a contributing member of the team."
iRobot is also the company behind the popular Roomba floor cleaners. People have become attached to these robots as well. There are even Roomba costumes available. Colin Angle believes that robots will eventually be used to care for children and the elderly.


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