Automotive

Prototype electric vehicle passes first test on road to Antarctica

Prototype electric vehicle pas...
The Venturi Antarctica is a joystick controlled, completely electric vehicle designed to tackle the harsh climes of Antarctica (Photo: Palais de Monaco)
The Venturi Antarctica is a joystick controlled, completely electric vehicle designed to tackle the harsh climes of Antarctica (Photo: Palais de Monaco)
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Measuring 9.8 ft (l) x 7.5 ft (b) x 5.9 (h), the Venturi Antarctica prototype uses a 23 kWh battery, two electric motors and an eight-wheel drive (Photo: Palais de Monaco)
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Measuring 9.8 ft (l) x 7.5 ft (b) x 5.9 (h), the Venturi Antarctica prototype uses a 23 kWh battery, two electric motors and an eight-wheel drive (Photo: Palais de Monaco)
The Venturi Antarctica is a joystick controlled, completely electric vehicle designed to tackle the harsh climes of Antarctica (Photo: Palais de Monaco)
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The Venturi Antarctica is a joystick controlled, completely electric vehicle designed to tackle the harsh climes of Antarctica (Photo: Palais de Monaco)
Expert drivers tested its maneuverability in the Southern Alps on slopes with inclines up to 40 percent (Photo: Palais de Monaco)
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Expert drivers tested its maneuverability in the Southern Alps on slopes with inclines up to 40 percent (Photo: Palais de Monaco)
The Antartica is being designed to operate on rugged terrain in extreme weather (Photo: Palais de Monaco)
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The Antartica is being designed to operate on rugged terrain in extreme weather (Photo: Palais de Monaco)
The prototype successfully reached 20 km at a constant 20 km/h speed (Photo: Palais de Monaco)
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The prototype successfully reached 20 km at a constant 20 km/h speed (Photo: Palais de Monaco)
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The Venturi Antarctica, a prototype electric vehicle designed to tackle the harsh climes of Antarctica recently completed its first test drive in the Southern Alps of Europe. Manufactured by Venturi Automobiles, the joystick-controlled prototype seats five and can reach a top speed of 25 km/h (15 mph) on snow tracks and 45 km/h (27 mph) on wheels. When fully developed, the electric vehicle will allow scientists to drive to research sites without any risk of contaminating the samples to be collected.

Contamination is a huge concern, as even one additional molecule can threaten the integrity of a sample. Scientists typically cover the last 8 or 10 km (5 or 6 mi) to a research site by foot or on skis. This is where the the Venturi Antartica will help, say its engineers, by conveying them to the sample site risk-free.

"They need a vehicle that doesn't contaminate the soil and air – the area of study must be clean of human activities," Franck Baldet, a testing engineer with Venturi Automobiles tells Gizmag. "It's crucial to have the most virgin environment to be deeply studied."

Measuring 3 m long, 2.3 m wide and 1.8 m tall (9.8 x 7.5 x 5.9 ft), the prototype uses a 23 kWh battery, two electric motors and an eight-wheel drive. Expert drivers tested its maneuverability in the Southern Alps on slopes with inclines up to 40 percent in very low temperatures and a range of snow conditions from tough to very icy. Dynamic maneuvers such as on the spot 360--degree rotation, climbing, time response to command input and hitting the panic brakes, were tested.

The Antartica is being designed to operate on rugged terrain in extreme weather (Photo: Palais de Monaco)
The Antartica is being designed to operate on rugged terrain in extreme weather (Photo: Palais de Monaco)

The goal was to check how intuitively the vehicle responded to joystick controls, in order to allow future untrained drivers and scientific personnel to easily operate the Venturi Antartica without specific training.

"We can affirm that it is the easiest vehicle to drive with a joystick," says Baldet. "We performed autonomy driving sessions and successfully reached 20 km (12 mi) at a constant 20 km/h (12 mph) speed, as specified by the scientists needs and the French Polar Institute (IPEV)."

The engineers also evaluated the vehicle's ability to charge at various low temperatures. While the Venturi Antarctica can currently be driven in sub-zero temperatures and on different types of snow, the challenge is to get it to work at -40° C (-40° F) before it can be sent to Antarctica. Ongoing work includes finding light materials that are tolerant to extreme weather and improving the battery's efficiency while still limiting its weight.

"The Venturi Antarctica has a good behavior in the cold," Baldet tells us. "Sending it to the white continent will depend on the results we have with batteries' testing sessions in extreme cold conditions."

With a different type of chassis, the prototype could also be adapted for different applications, such as using it for transporting people and equipment in ski resorts.

Source: Venturi Automobiles

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4 comments
grtbluyonder
Battery powered in the Arctic. The vehicle will get you to the scene of your death by freezing. Can't call for help because the battery is dead.
Pat Pending
A more inappropriate use for an battery propelled vehicle would be difficult to imagine as grtbluyonder points out above.
Want non-polluting; try a hydrogen fuel cell or better still a hydrogen gas turbine, loads of power and waste heat to keep you warm. Make your own hydrogen with PV or wind power back at base and it doesn't freeze until −259.14 °C
Milton
EV's are significantly more reliable than ICE's, so if they can get this thing "good-to-go" at -40 degrees F, then I'd choose it over an ICE any day.
Derek Howe
electric vehicles are becoming the norm. well, scratch that, electric everything is becoming the norm. Weed wackers, mowers, chain saws, vehicles, hell, next year I plan on buying a cordless electric snow blower.