June 3, 2015 at 3:26 p.m.
By invitation of the U.S. Department of Defense Polaris is supplying the all terrain vehicles for a robotics challenge taking place this week in California.
The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency or DARPA hosts a worldwide search for the latest in robot designs meant for emergency and disaster response.
The DARPA Robotics Challenge was created to spur development of technology suitable for robot intervention into unsafe places.
The competition in Pomona, California involves a large outdoor site set-up with numerous stations built to simulate natural disasters. A driving task will require a robot to drive the Polaris Ranger XP 900 EPS to demonstration stations and negotiate obstacles. The robots also have to be able to enter and exit their Ranger. The winning robot team gets $2 million, a runner-up gets $1 million and third place finishers in the robot overall capabilities gets $500,000.
A spokesperson for the Polaris Product Development Center in rural Wyoming, Chisago County, explained that the model of ATV being used in the contest comes equipped with a bench seat so it’s already suitable for the robots’ need to position themselves.
Donna Beadle added that Polaris “obviously made some modifications” to the Ranger but, “It’s easy to get in and out of anyway.”
For safety sake, she said, Polaris has fitted the ATVs with “safety stop” an electronic throttle kill and brake actuation technology.
In a press release, a Polaris General Manager for the Defense Division, Rich Haddad, said Polaris has been an industry leader making vehicles for use in types of terrains encountered in disasters and which are capable of being optionally-manned or tele-operated.
The versatility of the Ranger platform would allow a robot to carry tools, supplies and power around any disaster site.
Beadle said Polaris is bringing a Minneapolis Patrick Henry High School student, Jared Voight, along with the Polaris team to California all expenses paid. He is active in robotics courses, and will be blogging on-line tomorrow and Friday, June 5 and 6; if you want to follow the events closely go to the Polaris “defense Facebook” page, she added.
Having its ATV in this international event is terrific exposure for Polaris, but the contest site also features Polaris GEM (electric) vehicles serving as VIP shuttles and transport for supplies. A display of Polaris military and work duty vehicles is also on display in the Expo Area of the event site.
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