Benchmark's surveillance robot scopes out potential hazards
U.S. Sen. Kelly Ayotte tests a surveillance robot designed at irobot of Bedford, Mass., and manufactured by Benchmark Electronics in Nashua on Friday. (BARBARA TAORMINA/Union Leader Correspondent)
The global electronics manufacturer, which builds a wide range of products for many different industries and sectors of the economy, has been working with iRobot Corp. of Bedford, Mass., to produce a line of small robots capable of entering an area and scoping out hazards and threats.
Ayotte, who serves on the Senate Armed Services Committee, has been committed to ensuring that U.S. troops have every technological advantage to remain as safe as possible while serving in Iraq and Afghanistan.
"That's one of our robots," he said. "It got blown up, instead of a person."
Melissa Sturges, director of quality for Benchmark, said the company has had the chance to talk with members of the military who have used the robots in combat situations and have avoided danger and death thanks to their help.
Ayotte wanted to know how the robots performed in difficult terrain and weather. Frank Wilson, iRobot senior vice president, acknowledged it takes time and effort to design a rugged robot, but added that the small First Look machines can be hurled through windows in order to transmit back images to whomever is handling the control.
Roughly 450 people work at Benchmark's Nashua site on Innovative Way.
Gene Dempsey, a marketing manager for Benchmark, described robotics as an emerging field with all types of potential applications beyond military and law enforcement uses.
"We're not just about building robots," Wilson said. "What we do saves lives."
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