The pair, designed by a team led by engineer Laura Ray at Dartmouth College, are among the first autonomous polar robots to go to work. Now, knee-high Yeti is on an expedition to Antarctica, peering beneath the ice and snow on Mt. Erebus, in search of steam-carved caves hiding in the volcano’s ice cap.
“The idea was that we should have terrestrial robots — rovers that can do science missions much like planetary rovers,” said team member James Lever, an engineer at the U.S. Army Cold Regions Research and Engineering Laboratory. “They can be less expensive. It’s not quite as harsh as a planetary mission. But it’s still pretty demanding.”