The world’s first wind-powered and autonomous robot was launched in one of the world’s harshest climates last month, and is now exploring Antarctica and gathering data on the effects of climate change there.
The robot, dubbed “Polar Rover”, was developed at Beijing Aeronautics and Astronautics University, and is powered by a small vertical axis wind turbine from Urban Green Energy. The device is outfitted with atmospheric sensors, a snow sampler, and analyzers for both geology and geography, in order to further research on that continent.
The 300 kg rover uses an automated driving system, augmented by satellite navigation, to pilot its way across the frozen continent, and the machine is capable of traveling continuously, even over the uneven terrain of snow and ice. The Polar Rover can maneuver over large obstacles (up to half a meter high) in its path if necessary, and has already covered about 2500 km of Antarctica since its launch.
Power for the robot is supplied by a “HoYi!” vertical axis wind turbine, the smallest unit offered by Urban Green Energy, and one said to be “the perfect solution for small scale off-grid power generation“. The 1.2 meter tall, 200 watt turbine, like the rover itself, is built to stand up to the extremely cold temperatures and high winds prevalent in Antarctica, and the Polar Rover launch is a great demonstration of the viability of small wind power, even in extreme environments.
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