iRobot (IRBT) Sept. 8 acquired Nekton Research LLC, an unmanned underwater robot and technology company based in Raleigh-Durham, N.C.

Nekton has been instrumental in shaping the underwater marketplace during the past six years by supporting customers such as the Office of Naval Research, Naval Undersea Warfare Command, the Naval Air Systems Command and the U.S. Special Operations Command.

“We believe that the underwater market is the next frontier for robots” said Helen Greiner, co-founder and chairman of iRobot. “This acquisition positions us for leadership in robot solutions on both the land and sea.”

Terms of the merger agreement include a cash payment of $10 million with the potential for additional consideration of up to $5 million, based on the achievement of certain business and financial milestones. The impact on iRobot 2008 revenue will be minimal and in 2009 the anticipated product and contract revenue will be $6 million to 8 million. The transaction is estimated to be $0.02 dilutive to earnings per share in 2008 and $0.02-0.03 in 2009 due to expected investments by iRobot to produce the Nekton Ranger prototype.

“We are excited to have the opportunity to acquire a company with such a successful history of innovation and insight in the underwater vehicle space” Joe Dyer, president of iRobot’s Government and Industrial Robots division, said. “Nekton’s Ranger will be a strong complement to the Seaglider we have licensed from the University of Washington. With these two unmanned underwater vehicles (UUVs) we will be better positioned to meet the needs of our customers.”

Rick Vosburgh, Nekton’s president and CEO, will be appointed executive director, Maritime Systems and will lead business operations out of iRobot’s newly established Maritime Programs office located in Raleigh-Durham, N.C. “We are extremely happy to be joining the iRobot team. The expertise iRobot has demonstrated in migrating research projects to products made it a perfect fit for our company,” Vosburgh said. “We expect to be offering a next -generation Ranger by late 2009, which would not have been possible without iRobot.”