Army looks for a few good robots, sparks industry battle

CHELMSFORD, Mass. (AP) — The Army is looking for a few good robots.

These robots won’t be designed to fight, but to help the men and women who do by defusing bombs and scouting enemy positions.

Though the robots aren’t expected to take up arms, the companies making them have waged a different kind of battle. At stake is a contract worth almost half a billion dollars for 3,000 backpack-sized robots. Competition for the work has spilled over into Congress and federal court.

Regardless of which companies prevail, the competition foreshadows a future in which robots become even more common. The Army’s immediate plans alone envision a new fleet of 5,000 ground robots of varying sizes and levels of autonomy. The Marines, Navy and Air Force are making similar investments.

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