According to scientists, Antarctica could hold the key to identifying information on climate change. All they need to analyze the territory is a rover able to feed itself thanks to the sunlight.
The trials conducted at the South Pole to date have required impressive sums of money, mainly linked to the price of fuel - which must be transported by air to trucks.
Thanks to the experimentation of Team Polar, the situation could change drastically.
The 17 students who make up the team are working on the "Antarctica rover", a vehicle capable of self-feeding thanks to solar energy. Polar's new project could reach the colder areas of Antarctica, bringing us the information we need.
Team Polar will leave for the South Pole on 28 December this year, resisting for two weeks. The data they will collect will be used to create the first mobile prototype of the rover.
The intensity of the sun is extremely low, as is the temperature. Solar panels and batteries tend to perform poorly in these conditions, so we're looking for ways to make the system more weatherproof. In addition, the white landscape and lack of landmarks create a challenge for autonomous driving.Ewout Hulscher, Polar team manager
The start of the rover expedition
Ewout Hulscher, Polar's team manager, will travel across the South Pole along with his entire group of students.
The expedition will start with the help of the commander Charcot, commander of a natural gas-powered hybrid polar exploration vessel, normally engaged in expeditions environmental between the poles.
The future Antarctica rover will work through the use of integrated solar panels, which will allow it to "feed" on its own. At the same time, the sensors will have to guide the vehicle in the cold of Antarctica, using the georadar (GPR) to detect crevasses in the ice.
The rover will rely on three different elements:
- an electrical domain that focuses on power supply and energy storage
- a mechanical domain that focuses on the chassis, suspension and tires
- a final computational domain that focuses on sensors, which will help the rover operate autonomously
The hope of Team Polar is to be able to offer the South Pole a much more sustainable, as well as economically viable, future of research.
We will continue to observe the growth of Polar and its project, informing you of the news that will arrive in the near future.