A Monaco Racing Team Just Built an All-Electric Antarctic Rover

-58° F? No big deal

December 17, 2018 9:00 am

Some party facts you might not have known about our coldest continent:

Antarctica hosts personnel from 30 different countries, who travel south to conduct a variety of research, from practicing astronomy during long polar nights, to establishing neutral data sets for air quality amidst the cleanest air in the world. 

To faciliate all these scientific comings and goings, the continent plays host to 75 research stations — 45 operate year-round, while the other 30 are only in use during the summer — along with 20 airstrips. The United States itself operates a base called McMurdo Station, which lies directly south of New Zealand, on an islet called Ross Island. 

Apologies for the info dump, but we think it’s important to know exactly what’s going on down there. Haven’t you ever wondered? Most of us probably picture a single chilly station of 15-20 men and women, playing cards and shivering after another long day of dating ice sheets. But in reality, there are some pretty massive operations consistently underway in Antarctica. 

Which makes this vehicular development from Venturi all the more exciting, and environmentally significant. The Monaco-based Formula E racing team recently announced an all-electric Antarctic expedition vehicle, meant for scientists to go about their research in the continent without creating a carbon footprint. 

venturi (3 images)

As Antarctica is designated for science alone (there are no borders and military operations are explicitly banned), scientists move freely about the continent while conducting experiments. They traditionally do so with inefficient, diesel-powered vehicles, which A) can’t handle the terrain that well and B) pollute a region we literally can’t afford to have polluted. The Venturi Antarctica aims to change all that. 

Venturi employed the same battery cells uses in its race cars, creating an orange-clad tank that rumbles around on caterpillar tracks and weighs a mighty two tons. It can carry three people, plus equipment, and travels up to 27 miles at a time (at a speed of 12.5 MPH … we never said it was as fast as a race car), but most importantly, creates zero emissions. There are certain areas of the continent scientists have only approached by foot or ski until now, for fear of damaging the air. This bad boy can now get them there, while keeping them warm along the way. 

The model has already been tested in cold areas of Europe, and will head to British Columbia for a test run in early 2019 (carrying Monaco’s environment-minded Prince Albert, Venturi North American president Xavier Chevrin and Canadian astronaut Chris Hadfield) before being cleared for formal use in Antarctica.  

For more information on the vehicle, head here

Images from Venturi Formula-E Team

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