Minneapolis – Polaris Industries Inc. (NYSE: PII), the leading manufacturer of off-road vehicles, today announced that Polaris RANGER® XP 900 EPS vehicles will be used as part of the DARPA Robotics Challenge to be held December 20-21, 2013, at the Homestead-Miami Speedway, in Homestead, Fla.
In the early stages of a number of recent disasters, it was clear there were limitations to what mitigation steps humans could take due to dangerous conditions. The DARPA Robotics Challenge was created to spur development of advanced robots that can help humans to better respond to future disasters. The Challenge includes eight tasks that simulate the duties a robot might have to perform in such a situation. DARPA will use the RANGER XP 900 EPS in one of the eight tasks to help demonstrate robots’ ability to operate vehicles, since they are among the tools commonly on hand in disaster zones. The Polaris RANGER XP 900 is the best-selling vehicle in its class and widely available across the U.S.
“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. For the DARPA Robotics Challenge, the RANGERs were built to accommodate the robots and provide mobility at the mock disaster site.”
The RANGER XP 900 EPS was customized for the Challenge with a remote SafeStop Electronic Throttle Kill and Brake Actuation technology. A 1000-lb./453 kg. capacity bed provides space for the robot’s power supply, and inside the cab, the bench seat and tilt steering provide ample room for robots to operate the vehicle.
The driving task requires the robots to drive the RANGER XP 900 EPS through a 250-ft/76-m course with obstacles and varied widths, and exhibit the ability to turn the vehicle in a full circle.
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.