SnoMote Like Imperial Probe Droid

SnoMote robot explorers may soon be seen zipping around the Antarctic, where scientists are trying to get a handle on how and where all that ice is melting. Sounds like autonomous robots would be safer than sending scientists.


( Ayanna Howard with SnoMotes)

SnoMotes are able to traverse the ice and snow autonomously, using sensors and cameras to navigate their environment. They also can work together, collaborating on the work to be done. SnoMotes at the IEEE International Conference on Robotics and Automation (ICRA) in Pasadena on May 23 by the lead on the project, Ayanna Howard, an associate professor in the School of Electrical and Computer Engineering at Georgia Tech.

“In order to say with certainty how climate change affects the world’s ice, scientists need accurate data points to validate their climate models,” said Howard. “Our goal was to create rovers that could gather more accurate data to help scientists create better climate models. It’s definitely science-driven robotics.”

Here’s how the SnoMotes will work when they’re ready for their glacial missions: The scientist will select a location for investigation and decide on a safe “base camp” from which to release the SnoMotes. The SnoMotes will then be programmed with their assigned coverage area and requested measurements. The researcher will monitor the SnoMotes’ progress and even reassign locations and data collection remotely from the camp as necessary.

Science fiction fans are of course immediately reminded of another famous autonomous robotic explorer of ice planets - namely, the feared Imperial Probe Droids.


(Star Wars Imperial Probe Droid)

Although SnoMotes are, at present, without such standard Probe Droid equipment as blaster cannon and self-destruct mechanisms, we can always hope for the future.

For more information on probe droids, see the rather silly earlier article Imperial Probe Droid And NFL Robotic Skycam - Separated At Birth? ; see Robots Go Where Scientists Fear To Tread for more details about SnoMotes. Thanks to Moira for pointing this one out.

Scroll down for more stories in the same category. (Story submitted 7/2/2008)

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