At the Army-2019 military forum, the Mechatronic Systems laboratory presented an unmanned snowmobile. This year, the designers tested actuators, and after testing of stabilization platform, the Arctic robot will get the autopilot modules. Changes may affect powerplant as well; electric drive may replace the combustion engine, the lab director Alexander Kudryavtsev shared with Mil.Press Today.
The laboratory set about designing of the unmanned snowmobile two years ago in a proactive manner. In the end of 2018, the company purchased a commercial snowmobile, and the engineers mounted actuators on it. Last winter, these components have effectively passed the trials.
"When some years ago politicians began active talks about the Arctic exploration, we realized there were not any effective snow-going vehicle on the market,” Alexander Kudryavtsev said. “There are many rovers, but this mission is most suitable for snowmobiles. However, at that point there were no unmanned robot of this kind, so we decided to be the pioneers."
One of the robot’s features is the stabilization platform that, turning on its axis, changes the vehicle’s gravity center and keeps the course on the harsh snow terrain. Real field trials of the drone snowmobile is scheduled in the coming winter.
Currently, the vehicle is controlled remotely, however, by the year-end it may probably move in a standalone mode. Other alterations are being considered as well. Designers outlined the particular drawbacks of the available engine regarding power and response on control commands.
"We’re focused on cooperation with other labs,” explained the director of Mechatronic Systems. “Recently, we got to know the developers specialized in electrification. I hope they’ll help us to replace the combustion engine for electric motor drive. This will resolve a bunch of technical issues and lighten the body, Other cooperation area is automation. Now our snowmobile is controlled remotely, but we plan to equip it with an autopilot. In Russia, there’s lots of companies developing hardware/software packages, so I think we’ll definitely find good partners. Hopefully, this winter our snowmobile will move automatically."