Two students from the Eindhoven University of Technology (TU/e) will travel to Antarctica to test their unmanned vehicle, the ‘Antarctica-rover’. The vehicle will be studying the consequences of climate change.
First rolling prototype
The vehicle is based on the ‘Mars-rover’. This performs unmanned measurements of the climate on Mars. Next year they want to have the first rolling prototype of the ‘Antarctica-rover’ finished. However, the weather conditions at the South Pole bring some difficulties.
“The intensity of the sun is extremely low, as is the temperature. Solar panels and batteries generally perform poorly in these conditions, so we are looking for ways to make the system more resistant to the weather. Also, the white landscape and lack of reference points are a challenge for autonomous driving,” explains team manager Ewout Hulscher of team Polar. To find out how the real weather conditions will affect the rover, Hulscher and teammate Oscar Mannens are going to Antarctica for two weeks.
Sustainable and cheap
Typically, research stations and large trucks are needed for climate research at the South Pole. The designed rover requires none of these and results in as little human presence as possible. The project is backed by the Netherlands Polar Programme, an organisation that finances scientific research within the polar regions on behalf of the Dutch government.
Translated by: Seetha