Kitchener, Ontario robotics firm Clearpath Robotics has partnered with ARGO XTR (Xtreme Terrain Robotics) on releasing a new amphibious all-terrain mobile robot called Warthog, designed specifically for application development for researchers to test and validate their robotic research in real world conditions, both land-based and aquatic.
Capable of moving through deep waterways at up to 4 km/h, or traveling at speeds of up to 18 km/h while on land, Warthog sports a light-weight aluminum chassis, low ground pressure, a passive suspension system, and 24” traction tires to allow it to easily traverse a variety of tough terrains, including soft soils, thick mud and steep grades, while carrying up to 272 kg of payload.
“ARGO XTR (Xtreme Terrain Robotics) has a terrific record of manufacturing rock-solid outdoor platforms,” says Julian Ware, General Manager for Research Solutions at Clearpath Robotics. “Combined with our expertise in robotics, we’ve developed rugged platform suitable for a wide range of robotics applications in mining, agriculture, forestry, space, and environmental monitoring.”
While Warthog’s profile suggests an emphasis on ruggedness, the mobile robot’s purpose is explicitly aimed at providing researchers with a real-world platform for testing a robot in extreme outdoor conditions, with its capacity for being outfitted with quad tracks for a high degree of traction and maneuverability in snow and sand.
Warthog ships preconfigured with the Robot Operating System (ROS) and a Gazebo simulation model, allowing researchers to immediately access existing research and widely available open-source ROS libraries.
“ARGO XTR is excited to partner with a progressive robotics company like Clearpath with our platform,” says Jason Scheib, ARGO XTR Robotics Program Director. “The combination of our proven experience in amphibious and extreme terrain environments with our platforms with the progressive software and sensor integration from Clearpath Robotics, has created a second to none solution for a myriad of research and commercial applications.”
Designed for end-to-end integration and customization, Warthog includes an internal computer, IMU, wheel encoders, and mounting racks, as well as accessible user power and communication ports for integrating sensors, manipulators, and other third-party hardware.
Aside from being water-proof, Warthog is weather-proof, with built-in bilge pumps and an IP rating of 67, plus a runtime of six hours, owing to an all-electric, skid steer platform that has expandable power.
In June, Clearpath Robotics closed a US$30 million investment, led by iNovia Capital with participation from Caterpillar Ventures, GE Ventures, Eclipse Ventures, RRE Ventures and Silicon Valley Bank, to grow the company’s industrial division, OTTO Motors, which was launched in 2015 to focus on self-driving vehicles for material transport inside manufacturing and warehouse operations.
Last March, Clearpath Robotics has closed a $14 million Series A fundraising round, led by New York-based RRE Ventures, along with iNovia Capital.
Since the introduction of its OTTO autonomous warehouse robot last September, Clearpath appeared to have decided that it would focus on that part of the market, but the introduction of Warthog makes clear that the robotics company has plenty of interest left in developing robots for the dull, dirty and dangerous outdoor work that their robots may one day take over from humans.