A century after Western explorers first crossed the dangerous landscapes of the Arctic and Antarctic, researchers funded by the National Science Foundation (NSF) have successfully deployed a self-guided robot that uses ground-penetrating radar to map deadly crevasses hidden in ice-covered terrains.
Deployment of the robot, dubbed Yeti, could make Arctic and Antarctic explorations safer by revealing unseen fissures buried beneath ice and snow that could potentially claim human lives and expensive equipment.
Yeti is an 81-kilogram (180-pound) battery powered, four-wheel drive vehicle, about a meter across, that is capable of operating in temperatures as low as -30 Celsius (-20 Fahrenheit). Yeti uses Global Positioning System coordinates to navigate and to plot the position of under-ice hazards.
The robot will make polar travel safer for crews that supply remote scientific research stations. Attempts have been made by teams in the polar regions to use robots for tasks such as searching for meteorites in Antarctica. Researchers who have worked with Yeti, however, say it is probably the first robot to successfully identify hazards lurking under the thin cover of snow.
Also: Learn about the RASSOR excavator robot.