CyPhy Works, iRobot win army contracts to build small, robot bomb detectors

CyPhy Works builds flying robots designed to reach inaccessible or dangerous zones. This EASE robot can hover, take off, and land vertically.
CyPhy Works builds flying robots designed to reach inaccessible or dangerous zones. This EASE robot can hover, take off, and land vertically.

Boston-area robotics companies CyPhy Works and iRobot have received U.S. Army contracts to build emergency robots that can find and defuse explosives in pipes.

The two are among 20 sensor and robotics companies across the country that will receive a total of $49.5 million according to this multi-year agreement, awarded on behalf of the military’s Joint IED Defeat Organization.

CyPhy Works in Danvers builds flying robots that can fly into dangerous zones or buildings that are difficult to reach or hazardous to human crews. The army contract will fund the development and testing of a pocket-sized flying robot that could assist emergency response teams in civil and military situations.

With a camera on board, the tiny “Extreme Access Pocket Flyer” could fly through a window and inspect the insides of a building, or access hard to reach parts of a site that are blocked by rubble.

“Just like a camera, the best drone is the one you have with you,” CyPhy Works chief executive officer Helen Greiner, said in a release. Grenier is also a co-founder of iRobot.

iRobot in Bedford, a co-awardee of the contract, is a veteran builder of military robots. Among them is the 110 FirstLook, a rugged bot that can fit in a backpack and can be flung into a building through a window. It is equipped with grippers that can cut through wires and potentially help defuse bombs.

CyPhy Works closed a $7 million funding round in November last year.

Image: CyPhy Works

Nidhi Subbaraman writes about science and research. Email her at nidhi.subbaraman@globe.com.
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