Robots to Drive Polaris Ranger
The Limited Edition DARPA Polaris Ranger XP 900 EPS and GEM electric vehicles will be used as part of the DARPA Robotics Challenge (DRC) Finals to be held June 5-6, at the Fairplex, in Pomona, Calif.
The Challenge Finals will have robots perform a number of tasks in a continuous course, simulating what might be encountered in a real disaster situation. DARPA will use the Ranger XP 900 EPS to help demonstrate a robot’s ability to operate and to egress from a vehicle, since they are among the tools commonly on hand in disaster zones.
Read our Polaris Ranger 900 XP Review
“We are excited to continue our relationship with DARPA after the successful DRC Trials in 2013,” says Rich Haddad, general manager of Polaris Defense. “Off-road vehicles are some of the most useful vehicles in disaster relief, and our specialized Ranger vehicles were built to accommodate the robots and provide mobility for the driving task. In the future, the versatility of the RANGER platform would allow a robot to transport tools, equipment, supplies and power around a disaster site, while traversing the difficult terrain often found in disaster situations.”
The driving task during the Finals will require robots to drive the Limited Edition DARPA Ranger XP 900 EPS on a roadway and weave its way around obstacles. The robots also will have to egress the vehicle and attempt to intervene in a mockup disaster site where humans cannot perform tasks due to danger.
The winning team for the DRC overall will receive a $2 million grand prize; DARPA plans to award $1 million to the runner-up and $500,000 to the third-place team.
For the Trials and Finals, Polaris customized the Limited Edition DARPA Ranger XP 900 EPS. Vehicles will feature a remote SafeStop electronic throttle kill, brake actuation technology, 1000-pound capacity bed for the robot’s power supply; and inside the cab, a bench seat and tilt steering for ample room for robots to operate the vehicle. To maneuver the diverse types of terrains encountered in disasters without running the risk of flats, the vehicles are also equipped with TERRAINARMOR airless tires.
“The purpose-built DARPA Rangers are part of our continuing effort to lead the way in creating extremely-capable off-road vehicle platforms that are plug-and-play for the robotics companies,” says Haddad. “This means incorporating by-wire control technology and helping to provide information about the vehicles to make safe autonomous operation possible. With all of this, autonomy companies can more easily integrate the needed hardware and software for unmanned, optionally-manned and tele-operated off-road vehicles.”
Along with the Ranger XP 900 EPS, Polaris GEM vehicles will be used during the Challenge as well. When the robots have completed their tasks, they will be loaded onto the flat bed and transported on the Polaris GEM eL XD. Other GEM electric vehicles will be seen throughout the event working as VIP shuttles, and transporting goods and people throughout the campus.
A display of Polaris military and work vehicles can also be found in the Expo Area of the event.
I have been working exclusively in digital media since 1997. I started out with TSN.ca, spending nearly nine years creating and editing content on Canada's leading sports website. I left to join VerticalScope, Inc., one of the world's largest online publishers, to start a number of powersports publications. While at VerticalScope, I've helped create and oversee content for a wide variety of different publications, including ATV.com, Off-Road.com, ArcheryTalk.com, Tractor.com, RVGuide.com, and many more.
More by Lucas Cooney