What about an unmanned snowmobile?
That’s the apparatus we decided to design being inspired by the snowy view from our office window. It often happens within teams of engineers passionate about inventing, that one unusual idea can immediately spark further creative efforts, and a lot of new ideas developing the initial one are generated and brought together in a very short time. That was exactly the case with the ‘White Cat’. The National Strategy for the Arctic Region Development added to our engineering enthusiasm. No doubt, the new project is of great interest to the defense industry as well.
So why build such a transport vehicle? A wide variety of its applications in a number of areas is the answer! Only for civilian purposes alone, the ‘White Cat’ may be used for urgent cargo delivery, ground reconnaissance along the traffic route, meteorological tasks, cartographic measurements and studies, placement of various markers (beacons, signal repeaters), etc. Note that all of the application present no risk to human life under extreme northern conditions.
Just imagine yourself calmly letting the ‘iron beast’ out into the darkness of the frosty night. Suppose its task is to deliver blood supplies to the hospital of a small village which is a hundred kilometers away from you …
How did the project implementation start? Of course, it involved plenty of sketches and disputes, followed by the construction of a full-scale mock-up of the ‘White Cat’. The mock-up was made using modern multi-faceted design; the colors were chosen to match the name of the vehicle. At the very beginning of the work on the snowmobile basic units, we decided to use the inventions of our lab, for example the adaptive system for stabilizing an apparatus moving on a rough terrain. A high-speed motorized unit mounted on the chassis, compensates for the tilting forces by changing the gravity center of the rigging. The project was announced at the “ARMY 2017” exhibition and aroused great interest among experts.
The next step was to create a functional mock-up of a unmanned snowmobile for testing unmanned vehicle control systems. To this end, a ‘TIKSY-250’ snowmobile stock-produced at Rybinsk jet engine manufacture plant was converted into a remote-piloted vehicle. Its manual operating control was replaced with electric drives. We had a challenging task of carrying out the modifications with minimal changes to the factory design and layout. Moreover, we had to limit ourselves to the pre-installed onboard power-supply, and also solve the problem of electromagnetic interference caused by the spark ignition of the engine and affecting the radio remote control equipment.
Aerial photos were taken during the test runs. During the runs, the installed equipment generally functioned with adequate stability. Security systems demonstrated smooth running. Some expected failures were noticed in the work of the radio channel.
The analysis of the snowmobile test runs in open terrain revealed a few minor faults, which are currently being eliminated by our laboratory.
The next run will allow the validation of the technical solutions used for the unmanned vehicle control system. The work will be aimed at the installation of a television navigation system and an onboard telemetry channel on the operator’s control panel.