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Following in the footsteps (or more aptly the wheel tracks) of the Mars Curiosity Rover, Researchers from China’s Kunlun Polar Research Team in Antarctica, have decided to develop an autonomous robot that is powered by a renewable energy source. Whereas Curiosity relies on solar cells and lithium ion batteries, the Polar Rover, takes advantage of the wind down near the South Pole, making it the world’s first ever wind-powered, satellite-controlled autonomous robot. Is this trend to use autonomous, renewable energy powered robots on research expeditions to remote locations something we should expect more of in the future?
The scientists use the Polar Rover and its myriad of sensors to test the atmosphere, take snow samples, and analyse the geography and geology of the landscape. They have now added a HoYi small wind turbine, produced by Urban Green Energy, to provide the robot with its very own 200W power source.
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During a recent 58 day expedition the Polar Rover covered 2,500 kilometres, experiencing a myriad of weather conditions, including hurricane-force winds, yet not once did it experience troubles.
The researchers decided to add a small wind turbine to the rover after robotics engineers from the Beijing Aeronautics and Astronautics University, suggested that adding a wind turbine would be a good way to power the rover, and keep it constantly moving through sub-zero temperatures, polar winds, geomagnetic interference, and other environmental conditions.
By. Joao Peixe of Oilprice.com
Joao is a writer for Oilprice.com