Carlos Schreib - Industrial Design
Future of Polar Research Mobility
Master thesis - 03/2017
The modular vehicle platform POLARIS is designed for research in permanent frost zones. In particular for the drilling and transport of ice cores in polar regions. The separation into specialized functional units with identical drive modules allows a flexible assembly of the equipment.
The main vehicle is controlled manually, the other modules are autonomous. The adaptive track system ensures a safe movement over rough terrain with high agility. The hybrid drive system, which is operated by diesel and solar panels, reduces fuel consumption.
Polaris has been developed as a holistic concept to explore the polar regions together with experts and researchers from the Alfred-Wegener-Institute (AWI). Due to modularization not only one research area, such as ice core drilling, is possible, but also a variety of other activities for which only one module in logistics is exchanged for another. The modularity is enhanced by the separation of the housing and drive base, which is identical and interchangeable with all vehicles.
The vehicles´ dimensions were adapted to aircraft and container ship transportation, which was not the case with previously used variants. A tighter logistics chain saves much time and resources.
The suspension, developed with engineers, is driven by E-motors which allows each of the four tracks to adjust individually in height. The rugged landscape with glacier crevasses and ice blocks in the Antarctic can be crossed particularly safely and smoothly.
Energy Concept and Structure
Polaris is based on a hybrid drive system. A diesel engine feeds the electric motors that are used fordriving and adjusting the suspension. In addition, large solar panels installed on the modules, are used both for the locomotion and heating of the interior. Since the sun never goes down during the summer months, the UV radiation is high and as the solar panels have a particularly high efficiency when the ambient temperature is low, the energy yield is optimal. As a result, less fuel needs to be transported, which has many logistic and environmental benefits.
The Drill Unit is designed for rapid assembly and disassembly, which until now took several hours. For the first time, a temperature-controlled stowage for the ice cores is integrated into the concept.
The Energy Unit, comprised of a a large diesel tank and solar panels, is tilted towards the sun with the
adjustable suspension during extended drilling periods and connects to other modules by cable. The other units can thereby shut down their motors and save energy.
Polar research has decisively shaped our understanding of the Earth and climate change. However, this research area is geographically and medially very remote. An intensive and qualitative design for such an important research branch creates a presence and increases the public and individual perception of the subject. In addition, a sophisticated and holistic design concept, which integrates the aspects from manufacturing, logistics to detailed usage, ensures a smooth, fast and safe scientific application in the probably most hostile region on earth. The support of this work simplifies the field research and saves time
The trucks used for these missions nowadays are usually vehicles created to smoothen ski slopes and driving up steep angles and not to adapt to a rugged and uneven surface including deep holes and ice boulders. During the research it was soon visible that the material, tools and vehicles the researchers have to deal with are not created for the intent and thus always involve many compromises. This clearly should not be the case. My design approach was to include all these factors into one holistic and environmentally friendly system.
Scale Model 1:15
Work In Progress