Cool Robots Thayer School CRREL Mission Science Papers and Publications Pictures Team and Acknowledgements
Project Requirements
     There is undoubtedly a good scientific and technological motivation for developing cheap and efficient ways to deploy large-scale distributed networks across the Antarctic plateau. It would not be efficient, even dangerous, to use humans and the limited aircraft resources to deploy stations, particularly because they could not easily be reconfigured, and either would have to be recovered at the end of the season, or else be designed to be hardy enough to endure the particularly harsh Antarctic winter.

     We therefore are focusing on the development of inexpensive robotic means for distributing instrument networks. The robot needs to be able to withstand the typically cold temperatures and relatively light winds. Because of the size of the area to be covered, these robots need to be able to traverse long-distances in a short amount of time in order to maximize the time they are on station and taking data. Some means of communication over these long distances will be necessary, either for relaying instructions and/or transferring scientific data. In order to be cost-effective, the robot should require as little human interaction as possible - necessitating at least semi-autonomous, if not fully autonomous navigation over hundreds of kilometers. These robots shall be deployed from the South Pole Station or some other remote location, which means that they need to be able to fit inside of the Twin Otter's cramped cargo bay and require little on-site assembly. They also need to be light, both for ease of transport, but also due to the simple fact that lighter robots will not sink as deeply into the snow, which requires less power to move them. In order to lessen the environmental impact, as well as keep the size and weight down for such an endurance robot, a solar energy source is required.

     The following table numerically describes a number of these requirements. The papers sections contain more information.

Project Requirements
Empty Mass<= 75 kg
Payload Mass Budget>= 15 kg
Payload Power Budget>= 40 W
Travel Range>= 500 km
Travel Time<= 2 weeks
Observation Time<= 3 months
Maximum Speed>= 0.8 m/s, twice the average cruising speed
Direct Insolation Range400 W/m2 to 1200 W/m2
Communication Range>= 500 km, preferably global
Communication Rate>= 4800 baud, much higher for scientific data
Ground Pressure<= 20 kPa, in order to keep the snow sinkage low
Temperature Range+30 C to -40 C, N.H. high to Antarctic summer low
Max Stable Wind<= 20 m/s, the maximum summer wind for five years
Dimensions<= 1.4 x 1.15 x 1 m, to fit the Twin Otter
Material Cost<= $20,000

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