While we await news of how quickly its new-and-improved Roombas flew off the shelves at Sears (Nasdaq: SHLD ) , Best Buy (NYSE: BBY ) , and Target (NYSE: TGT ) this Christmas season, it seems that iRobot (Nasdaq: IRBT ) investors like yours Fool-y will have to depend on the U.S. Army for our daily doses of good news. Fortunately, militaristic PR supply lines remain intact.
Back in August, for example, we learned that iRobot was in the running for the biggest purchase of military robots in history. It took just two days for that good news to turn bad, when a rogue ex-employee swiped the contract from under iRobot's mechanical proboscis. But by year's end, the supply lines were reestablished, with news that our little Motley Fool Rule Breakers pick had vaporized its nemesis.
Second verse, same as the first?
Happily, 2008 should hold more good news for iRobot investors. As the clock struck noon today, the company issued a press release announcing that the U.S. Army has sounded the bugle and issued marching orders to iRobot's Small Unmanned Ground Vehicle. Jointly developed with SAIC (NYSE: SAI ) and Boeing (NYSE: BA ) , the so-called "SUGV" looks a bit like a miniature PackBot -- the robot model for which iRobot won the August contract last year. Its tinier proportions contrast the larger R-Gator, which iRobot is developing in cooperation with Deere (NYSE: DE ) .
The Pentagon has asked iRobot to get 25 SUGVs ready for testing by April, with actual testing to begin in May. If all goes according to plan, the Pentagon aims to start deploying the little hellions on the front lines in Iraq by September of this year. They'll earn their keep being flung through windows and down stairs, to scout out dangerous nooks and crannies before soldiers put themselves in harm's way.
So let me count: That's April for delivery, May for testing, and September for reports of actual sales to the military. Yep, looks like 2008 is chock full of opportunities for iRobot to keep the good news coming. Now let's see whether these guys can execute.
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