The U.S. Army has ordered another 3,000 Packbot combat robots. This is the second generation Packbot 510, which is lighter, faster, stronger, more rugged and reliable than the thousands of existing PackBots. The army already has about 4,000 of these small robots in Iraq and Afghanistan. While they are mainly used to deal with roadside bombs and booby traps, they are becoming more popular as infantry scouts and sentinels. In this role, the PackBot can explore caves or buildings suspected of containing enemy troops or booby traps, as well as stand guard in dangerous locations.
The PackBot 510 weighs 42 pounds, and can carry up to 46 pounds of equipment. It uses a new controller that looks, and operates, very much like a video game controller. This makes training, and use, of the PackBot much easier. Most troops have video game experience. The wireless controller can operate a PackBot at a distance of up to 1,000 meters. The battery lasts 2-12 hours, depending on mission. The longer time is for when you are using the PackBot as a sentinel, just sitting there with its camera on. It's a compact device (28 inches long, 16 wide and 8 high). It can be tossed through a window into a room, and quickly get to work. Top speed is about 2.5 meters a second, and it can climb stairs. It's waterproof and can travel up to ten kilometers on one charge. This model will cost about $90,000 each. Police departments are also big customers, using the PackBot for checking out bomb threats, and in SWAT type situations.