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DARPA Robotics Challenge Receives Assistance from Polaris Ranger

When the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) Robotics Challenge holds a demonstration at the Homestead-Miami Speedway in Homestead, Fla. on Dec. 20-21, 2013, the Polaris Ranger XP 900 EPS will be on hand. Polaris’ role will be to help the DARPA Robotics Challenge spur development in advanced robots that can be used to respond to future disasters.

Polaris’ role will be to help the DARPA Robotics Challenge spur development in advanced robots that can be used to respond to future disasters.

Instead of the usual roar of a full field of NASCAR competitors, robots from seventeen teams will be competing at the Robotics Challenge trials being held in Homestead. All will use a Polaris Ranger XP 900 EPS during one of the eight tasks. The trials are significant, because the teams chosen to move on and compete in the finals of the Robotics Challenge in 2014 will have a shot at $2 million in prize money.

Polaris Ranger XP 900 EPS

The Polaris Ranger XP 900 EPS will be used for one of the eight tasks of the DARPA Robotics Challenge. Polaris photo

The eight tasks are designed to get a baseline for the state of robotics and determine their potential ability to perform disaster response. The Ranger XP 900 EPS is being used because the vehicle is frequently employed in disaster zones. “We have found off-road vehicles are some of the most useful vehicles in disaster relief due to their ease of transport and ability to traverse challenging terrain,” said Patrick Weldon, product manager for Polaris Defense.

“Our specialized vehicles are designed to the end user’s specifications.”

The Ranger XP 900 EPS has been customized for the Robotics Challenge with a remote SafeStop electronic throttle kill and brake actuation technology. “Our specialized vehicles are designed to the end user’s specifications,” said Weldon. The 1,000 lb./453 kg. capacity of the bed will be utilized to provide space for the robot’s power supply. Inside the cab, robots will be able to operate the vehicle thanks to the ample room provided by the bench seat and tilt steering. “For the DARPA Robotics Challenge, the Rangers were built to accommodate the robots and provide mobility at the mock disaster site,” said Weldon.

Polaris Ranger XP 900 EPS

The Polaris Ranger XP 900 EPS being used in the DARPA Robotics Challenge has been customized to meet the requirements of the trials. Polaris photo

During the demonstration, robots will drive the Ranger XP 900 EPS through a 250 ft./76 m. course replete with obstacles and varied widths, and demonstrate the capability to turn the vehicle in a full circle. Polaris is envisioning a day in the not too distant future when robots transport tools, equipment, supplies, and power sources around a disaster site using the Ranger XP 900 EPS.

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Steven Hoarn is the Editor/Photo Editor for Defense Media Network. He is a graduate of...