According to this 2016 gameranx video:

The US military actually uses an Xbox 360 controller for EOD robots - which are essentially robots that pick up bombs, or deliver bombs.

(EOD stands for Explosive Ordinance Disposal.)

Is that true?

1 Answer 1


This may not be the robot shown in the video, but the XM1216 Small Unmanned Ground Vehicle, a smaller version of iRobot's Packbot, uses a "a ruggedized handheld controller.1"

The controller can be seen around the 2:42 minute mark of this B-roll footage from iRobot's media kit.

Furthermore, the following picture (taken from the PackBot Wikipedia page, and provided by the U.S. Navy before that) clearly shows a 3rd-party console controller in the bottom-right corner:

LA PUSH, Wash. (June 24, 2009) Explosive Ordnance Disposal Technician 1st Class Ryan Rigdon, assigned to Explosive Ordnance Disposal Mobile Unit (EODMU) 11, Det. Fallon, operates a PackBot explosive detecting robot during explosive handling training at U.S. Coast Guard Station Quillayute River, Wash. during the Homeland Defense Interoperability Exercise. Navy explosive ordnance disposal technicians and divers from the Northwest region met with U.S. Coast Guardsmen in La Push, Wash. for training focusing on identifying various kinds of explosives and handling diving medical emergencies. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Chantel M. Clayton/Released)

And this picture, taken from the XM1216 Wikipedia page and provided by the U.S. Army, clearly shows an Xbox 360 controller: Soldiers from the Future Combat Systems, Evaluation Brigade Combat Team, employ an unmanned vehicle to clear a road during an exercise and live demonstration Feb. 1 at Oro Grande Range, Fort Bliss, Texas. Photo by Maj. Deanna Bague

In short, they may not be able to "plug in any Xbox 360 controller", but they certainly use similar-looking controllers and, with the proper ruggedization, may even be able to use off-market options.

  • You beat me to an answer; I was just starting to write this up. iRobot no longer sell military robots. They spun off Endeavour Robotics, which now makes the Packbot. This promotional video shows it in use.
    – Oddthinking
    Commented Aug 4, 2018 at 17:24
  • 1
    note that XM clearly indicates it's a prototype or proof of concept, so quite possibly put together with whatever the builder had laying around. Which the rather flimsy looking body and tracks of the machine also indicate.
    – jwenting
    Commented Aug 6, 2018 at 11:07
  • Worth noting that wired usb xbox 360 controllers work with standard PC hardware, whereas the wireless ones need an adapter. Hearsay; I recall seeing a video explaining the reasoning was that most of the users were already familiar with the 360 controller, so that's what they used.
    – bobsburner
    Commented Mar 19, 2020 at 11:50

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