Eindhoven students test first rover, named Ice Cube, for climate research in snow
Students from Team Polar at the Eindhoven University of Technology (TU/e) tested a prototype of their rover, a vehicle built for climate research in inhospitable areas such as the South Pole. In January they drove their vehicle around for the first time, with the test taking place in the Norwegian snow. According to the university, the tests were successful.
The boxy vehicle has been named Ice Cube, not to be confused with the American actor and musician of the same name. The research vehicle was inspired by the rovers the U.S. space agency, NASA, sent to the surface of Mars to learn more about that planet. The intention is that TU/e's rover will eventually be able to drive around independently to collect data in icy regions. The prototype is not yet able to do that, but it can be controlled remotely.
"Earth is facing its biggest problem in centuries: climate change. To combat it, we need to better understand the factors behind climate change," the university explained in a statement about the purpose of the vehicle. "It is then necessary to collect information about our planet in places where nature is still pristine, and more or less untouched by climate change."
The rover is fitted with solar panels and other equipment that allows it to generate its own electricity supply. Based on the tests with this copy, the student team will start work on the next version which must be suitable for actually going on a mission to Antarctica. The self-driving vehicle should make measurement-taking more sustainable and affordable than scientific expeditions.
Next Friday, the students will present the Ice Cube rover and their findings. They will do that on the campus of the Eindhoven University of Technology.
Reporting by ANP