Making the battlefield a safer place for humans, iRobot (NASDAQ:IRBT) announced a $16.6 million contract with the U.S. Navy this morning for more than 100 explosive-detection robots. The company will team with ICx Technologies to deliver the products, which will join other military robots already assisting soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Together, iRobot and ICx combine to create an all-purpose warrior in the Middle East, where roadside bombs are routine killers. The deal entails the deployment of 100 highly sensitive ICx Fido units, which detect explosives' vapors. Once a bomb is found, iRobot's PackBot 500 takes over to disarm the bomb.

In a world that doesn't seem to be getting any friendlier, military robotics have become an intriguing area for investors. AeroVironment (NASDAQ:AVAV), a maker of unmanned aircraft, went public last week at $17 per share; it's trading 36% higher today.

AeroVironment isn't alone in sending out drone planes. Larger players in the unmanned air vehicle niche include Elbit (NASDAQ:ESLT) and Lockheed Martin (NYSE:LMT).

While AeroVironment relies on the U.S. Department of Defense for most of its sales, iRobot is also a consumer electronics star, thanks to its Roomba robotic vacuum cleaners and its newer floor-scrubbing Scooba systems.

The diversity has helped iRobot sustain profitability on an annual basis, despite the lumpy nature of military contracts. Its wide range of edgy robotics lines has also made it a popular Motley Fool Rule Breakers newsletter recommendation.

Yes, the company finds itself trading for less than its $24 IPO price, but as long as there are bombs worth disarming and dirty floors worth cleaning, it's really just a matter of time before humans see more merit in iRobot.

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Longtime Fool contributor Rick Munarriz is a fan of iRobot, but he does not own shares in any of the companies mentioned in this story. He is also part of the Rule Breakers newsletter research team, seeking out tomorrow's ultimate growth stocks a day early. The Fool has a disclosure policy.