iRobot plans to acquire an underwater robotics company for $10 million, the company announced Monday.
The announcement comes one week after iRobot co-founder Rodney Brooks said he will step down as iRobot's chief technology officer to pursue a new venture. While Brooks will remain on iRobot's board, his move has left some people questioning what's next for the growing robotics company.
Here's one answer the company seems keen to make known.
"We believe that the underwater market is the next frontier for robots. This acquisition positions us for leadership in robot solutions on both the land and sea," Helen Greiner, co-founder and chairman of iRobot, said in a statement.
iRobot predicts that the purchase of Nekton Research will garner it up to $8 million in product and contract revenue for 2009. The deal also expands iRobot's client list to include several agencies in the U.S. Navy.
Nekton's products, according to iRobot, will dovetail with the Seaglider, an AUV (Autonomous Underwater Vehicle) iRobot purchased the commercial rights to develop from the University of Washington in June.
Nekton Research, based in Durham, N.C., was founded by a group of faculty from Duke University. It makes about five types of unmanned underwater vehicles (UUVs) and related robotics technology.
The Ranger is for search and underwater surveying with a faster version called the Nekton High Speed UUV. Nekton has several different fin-equipped UUVs when specific maneuverability is an issue, as with its Transphibian robot for clearing underwater landmines.
The BioBay is the sea equivalent of a chemical detection robot and can also take water samples. It's currently being used by the EPA in several areas where contaminated water is a concern, according to Nekton Research. Nekton Research is also developing a team of tiny swarming underwater robots called MicroHunters. They can be sent en masse for scoping out large areas of water.… Read more