Robotics firm iRobot's 110 FirstLook robot has just received a rather hefty upgrade.
Designed for the defense and law enforcement communities, FirstLook is a remotely-operated, lightweight ground robot which was created to provide first responders with some much-needed situational awareness in the event of a crisis - particularly CBRN (Chemical, Biological, Radiological, and Nuclear) emergencies. It's also throwable, in the event that it can't be driven into an area.
The practice of using robots in law enforcement and security operations isn't really anything new. Robots have for years been utilized by bomb squads as a means of protecting squadron members from direct harm. Though these rigs are historically rather expensive, they're still considerably less valuable than a human life.
FirstLook - which weighs only five pounds - exists as a sort of natural progression of that concept. After the recent upgrade, it comes equipped with a small manipulator arm which allows it to pick up and move objects up to three pounds out to about one foot. It's also got CBRN sensors to assist in the identification of hazardous materials, thermal cameras which allow 24/7 operation and an Integrated Deployment And Camera which allows the operator to deploy payloads from the drone.
Further, certain segments of the FirstLook actually incorporate modular design. What this effectively means is that agencies making use of the robot can customize and modify it to better suit their needs. These new upgrades along with the modular design makes FirstLook highly adaptible for both defense and law enforcement, says iRobot's Mark Belanger.
As a robotics firm, iRobot is no stranger to the defense community. Along with the 110 FirstLook, it's created a wide array of other security and enforcement robots. These devices include the 510 PackBot, the 710 Warrior, and the SUGV Surveillance robot. The main difference between FirstLook and its kin is size - the drones all serve effectively the same purpose, albeit in slightly different scenarios.