PUBLISHED: 11:29 AM on Wednesday, June 18, 2008
Photo: 'SnoMotes' tested on icefield
A prototype robot that can help monitor climate change were tested on the Juneau Icefield June 7-13. The "SnoMote" is a small two-foot long robot like a snowmobile. It is autonomous (not remote-controlled) and outfitted with sensors, gauges and cameras. Georgia Tech associate professor Ayanna Howard (pictured on the left), who developed the prototype, arrived in Juneau on June 7. "In order to say with certainty how climate change affects the world's ice, scientists need accurate data points to validate their climate models," said Howard. "Our goal was to create rovers that could gather more accurate data to help scientists create better climate models. It's definitely science-driven robotics." The Juneau visit marks the first time the robot was tested in Alaska. Howard envisions SnoMotes roving Antarctica collecting important data. Howard unveiled the SnoMotes at the IEEE International Conference on Robotics and Automation (ICRA) in Pasadena, California on May 23. The SnoMotes will also be part of an exhibit at the Chicago Museum of Science and Industry in June. The research was funded by a grant from NASA's Advanced Information Systems Technology program.

  photo courtesy of the University of Alaska Southeast