Solar-Powered, Robotic Snow Surfing

If you think engineers are funny, then you’re going to love the trip report posted by Dartmouth’s Thayer School of Engineering. While testing their scalable, solar-powered autonomous science platforms for the Antarctic (hereforthwith referred to as SSPASPFTA), the team inadvertently invented a new sport — solar-powered, robotic snow-surfing:

One morning, while taking walking behind the robot and dragging a sled of equipment for quantitatively measuring the strength and cohesion of the snow underfoot, we realized what fools we were to man-haul the equipment ourselves. And, for that matter, how silly even to walk. So, we hooked the sled to the robot and went for a ride. The robot, it turns out, can haul its own weight (nearly 200 lbs.) on a sled and hardly notice it.

What fools, indeed. Though no one will be calling this sport extreme — the SSPASPFTA only travels at the pace of a walking person — it is somewhat novel. Plus, it gives engineers the chance to be outside, read, AND engage in some “man-hauling” all at once. Next stop: Vail.