You’re traveling more than 1,000 miles across the barren snowscape of Antarctica. Along the way, many crevasses lie hidden between you and your quest to resupply the hungry scientists at the Amundsen-Scott South Pole Station. The good news is you can detect these deathtraps with a radar arm. The bad news is it only gives you approximately four seconds of warning before you and your tracked vehicle, which weighs several tons, plummet to a dark and silent tomb. If only there were a robot that could map crevasses ahead of such expeditions. Preferably one with an adorable yet mildly ferocious name.
Meet the Yeti. This four-wheel-drive rover drags a ground-penetrating radar arm capable of logging information that tells scientists what lies—or more importantly, doesn’t lie—below. At just 180 pounds, the bot crosses snow-covered crevasses like it ain’t no thing. (Since people don’t wander around on foot down there, the real danger is the heavy tracked vehicles breaking through the snow bridges.) It functions at temperatures around -20 degrees Fahrenheit. In short, Yeti is an awesome little minion redrawing the boundaries of hazard georeferencing.
Most of us don’t have to think about such things, but doing science on the bottom of the world is a tricky endeavor. In addition to dangerous weather conditions and 30-foot-wide trapdoors in the ice, the logistics of assembling personnel, equipment, and supplies at the South Pole is nothing short of extraordinary.
“The focus of this effort was to support the actual operations and logistics side of the Polar Program,” James Lever, mechanical engineer and specialist in over-snow mobility for the U.S. Army’s Cold Regions Research and Engineering Laboratory, told me. (I bet you never heard a kindergartener say she wants to grow up to specialize in over-snow mobility.) Lever and his co-principal investigator professor Laura Ray published their findings this month in the Journal of Field Robotics. “Whether you have researchers in Antarctica or Greenland, you have to keep people safe and comfortable. You’re a long way from everything else and so it’s expensive to do science there.”
The little Yeti—and its predecessor, the solar-powered Cool Robot—have found support from the operations and science arms of the National Science Foundation as well as NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory—after all, rover work on Earth’s poles isn’t so different from rover work on Mars or other celestial bodies. And the lessons we learn from tweaking Yeti may one day help us in space. For instance, one of the paper’s coauthors from the Thayer School of Engineering at Dartmouth College is developing an algorithm to detect characteristic moments just before Yeti gets stuck. If the algorithm can prevent the bot from getting into jams in the first place, it saves Lever and his colleagues an annoying trip out into the white. For NASA on the other hand, an immobilized rover is a really expensive bummer. For as Lever put it, “They don’t get theirs back.”
Germany’s Merkel shrugs aside new book about communist-era past, says she never hid anything 2013 05 25
Chancellor Angela Merkel has shrugged aside a book that suggests she may have been closer to East Germany’s communist system than previously thought, saying she’s never hidden anything.
The 58-year-old Merkel grew up in East Germany and entered politics as communism crumbled in 1989. It’s long been known that, like many, she joined the communist youth organization. She has said she ...
‘Lack of public debate on immigration caused Stockholm riots’ 2013 05 25
Mishra Mrutyuanjai raises some points that we discussed with Mikael Jalving about in our Red Ice Radio program, in January earlier this year.
Sweden should put its political correctness aside and start an open debate on immigration as it’s the only way to avoid a repeat of the Stockholm riots, Mishra Mrutyuanjai, Swedish Democrats movement member, told RT.
Stockholm is reeling as ...
Stockholm riots spread west on sixth night 2013 05 25
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Stockholm experienced a sixth straight night of riots early Saturday, with cars torched in several immigrant-dominated suburbs, as Britain and the United States warned against travelling to the hotspots.
Nearly a week of unrest, which spread briefly Friday night to the medium-sized city of Oerebro 160 kilometers (100 miles) west of Stockholm, have put Sweden’s reputation as an oasis ...
Marc Abramsson from the National Democratic Party comment on the Husby Riots in Stockholm 2013 05 25
Sweden could be paying a tough price for its policies on immigrants and multiculturalism. A Stockholm suburb erupted into violence for a few hours, as crowds of angry, masked youths from migrant families burned cars, smashed windows and hurled stones at police officers.
What’s believed to have fueled the riot was the death of a 69-year-old man, allegedly shot by ...
‘They don’t want to integrate’: Fifth night of youth rioting rocks Stockholm 2013 05 25
Youth gang riots in the Swedish capital Stockholm have entered fifth straight night. Hundreds of mostly immigrant teenagers tore through the suburbs, smashing windows and burning cars in the country’s worst outbreak of violence in years.
At least six vehicles were torched throughout the city late on Thursday while the police called for reinforcements from other Swedish cities bracing for further ...