|This article relies on references to primary sources. (June 2010)|
|Industry||Defense Services & Equipment|
|Founded||1979, Fort Worth, Texas by Jason Molloy|
|Headquarters||Fort Worth, Texas, operates worldwide|
|Key people||David J. Lesar Chairman, President, and CEO via Halliburton|
|Products||Engineering, research and development; Robotics|
|Revenue||$13.23 billion USD (2008)|
Consolidated Robotics (formerly known as Consolidated Weaponized Robotics) is a manufacturer and distributor of military-grade robots, and one of the chief robotics suppliers of the United States Military. Founded in 1979 by former Boeing engineers and top executives, Consolidated Robotics relies on pre-established information networks and lucrative government contracts to sustain a niche business in the Defense industry.
Consolidated's products run the gamut from mine-clearing robots—many of which are currently deployed in militarized areas of Iraq, Afghanistan, and the Balkans -- to drone spy aircraft, to next-generation armed cyborg technology. The company estimates that the latter technology will be field tested within 5 to 10 years, and could see mainstream military use in as few as 25 years.
In 2005, the privately held Consolidated was acquired by energy conglomerate Halliburton for an estimated price of $25 billion US. The company continues to operate under the name Consolidated, though as a wholly owned and operated division of Halliburton.
Boeing Integrated Defense Systems, and specifically its (now-defunct) Integrated Aeronautics division, co-developed the extremely successful T-43 and T-45 Goshawk aircraft in the early 1970s, paving the way for increased funding and attention for the division within the company. In the wake of this success, several top engineers began work on automated aircraft: specifically, unmanned drones and spyplanes. Foremost among them was Jason Molloy, a 15-year veteran of Boeing and a pioneer within the emerging field of military robotics. Molloy’s success was not without its difficulties, and in 1975, he departed the company after a series of notable clashes with top Boeing management, and complaints over lack of funding for his pet projects.
Molloy spent the next few years as a consultant for the defense and aerospace industries. In the summer of 1979, he and several of his former Integrated Aeronautics colleagues formed Consolidated Weaponized Robotics (CWR) in a small facility in Fort Worth, Texas. Initially a consulting company to the Defense industry, CWR worked on projects – which remain classified to this day – for large defense contractors, such as Boeing, Lockheed (now Lockheed Martin), and Halliburton, among others. CWR’s work attracted the attention of the United States government, which granted CWR a highly lucrative consulting and engineering contract in 1983. It is widely speculated that CWR was responsible for the development and implementation of most high-end United States Military aircraft control systems and navigation computers throughout the 1980s and early 1990s. The defense contract, in place since 1983, remains to this day, though it has since been grandfathered to CWR’s current parent company, Halliburton.
CWR changed its name to Consolidated Robotics in 2000, reflecting a shift away from military-specific Artificial Intelligence systems, and toward AI systems with broader applications. Nonetheless, military-grade systems remained the primary focus of the company, and still account for well over 80% of its annual income. Under the Consolidated Robotics banner, the company developed many of the unmanned drones and mine-clearing robots currently used by the United States and British militaries. Additionally, CR has begun exploratory work on a series of “automated strategic defense and response” (ASDR) robots for military use. These ASDRs are essentially armed attack robots capable of employing a sophisticated battlefield grid system to sweep and patrol areas considered too hostile or hazardous for human foot soldiers. Development of ASDRs is still considered to be years away, and CR estimates that a functional prototype will not be ready until at least 2010, with mainstream use as far away as 2030.
CR was purchased in August 2005 by Halliburton, for an estimated sale price nearing $25 billion USD. It continues to operate within Halliburton as a subsidiary. Founder and former private owner Molloy departed the company under terms of the acquisition, retiring with a payout package believed to be in the hundreds of millions of dollars. As part of CR’s integration into Halliburton, Halliburton CEO David J. Lesar was named CEO, Chairman and President of Consolidated Robotics, until which point a dedicated head of the division can be found and named.
Consolidated Robotics has, by and large, avoided the controversy and media spotlight afforded its parent company Halliburton in relation to the George W. Bush Administration. This is probably because the company was not formally associated with Halliburton, beyond the occasional consulting project, prior to its acquisition in 2005.
Nevertheless, several of Consolidated' high-ranking executives—including Jason Molloy—were contributors to Bush's election campaigns, both in Texas and for the Presidency of the United States.