All I Want For Christmas: Husky A200 Unmanned All-terrain Vehicle
May 17, 2012

All I Want For Christmas: Husky A200 Unmanned All-terrain Vehicle

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Lee Rannals for

Having the "latest-and-greatest" disease has both advantages and disadvantages.  It´s a diagnosis with symptoms like keeping up to date with the newest technology, but filled with bad spells like desiring a cool gadget you can't afford.

So given the state of my condition, attending the 2012 International Conference on Robotics and Automation doesn't exactly play out the best-case scenarios.

Next on my bucket list of items I would like to own before I die is Clearpath Robotics' Husky A200, an unmanned all-terrain vehicle.

When someone says unmanned all-terrain ground vehicle, you may think it essentially falls into the category of some sort of RC car.  Well you'd be right, assuming the Canadian Space Agency trusts its million dollar equipment for rover research on an RC car.

The Husky A200 is like a Mars Rover for research on Earth, capable of carrying large payloads.  It is basically a shell, ready to take anything researchers want to give it.

The 4x4 unmanned vehicle can trek through snow, over large rocks, up steep hills, and through just about anything you need to run through.  Its 13-inch tires and 5-inch ground clearance makes it a perfect candidate to roll around terrain like the Rocky Mountains.

At ICRA, the Husky A200 being shown off by Clearpath, had a Microsoft Kinect attached to it, running real-time data back to its host computer so that it could create an environmental map of what is around it.  The booth operator said that if they wanted to, it could be programmed to collect data about its surrounding environment, and roll itself around the exhibit floor uncontrolled, consuming other robots in its path.

The Canadian Space Agency is currently using the unmanned vehicle to attach some of their equipment on what they would use on a Mars or Lunar rover.  They have created a mock-lunar environment, and utilize Husky A200's ability to roam around tough terrain to see how their research tools might handle certain scenarios on another celestial body.

The booth operator said that the Husky A200 acts as a good practice point for research organizations like the Canadian Space Agency, because it keeps them from having to risk their million dollar rovers in these test environments. It is able to carry up to 165 pounds of equipment in its payload bay.

The Husky A200 is versatile because of the endless things a scientist could mount on it for research.  It is even designed with a scalable and open architecture, so it is ideal for testing and developing multi-robot systems.

It also has open-source capability, so researchers not only have full access to what goes on top of a Husky A200, but how it performs as well.

The souped-up off-road remote controlled vehicle has a maximum operating time of 8 hours, and can travel 3.3 feet per second.

And, if traveling on land is not your cup of research, then the Kingfisher M100 might be better suited for you.  It is the water-version of the Husky, floating around on the waters at 2.5 knots, carrying up to 26 pounds of payload with it.

Anyone else with a latest-and-greatest affliction that has applicable reasons to own a Husky A200, such as the ultimate grocery cart, can have their own for around $12,000.