University of Alberta uses Clearpath Robotics’ Husky UGV for soil sampling research

(Kitchener, ON, Canada - October 21, 2014) University of Alberta's Integrated Reliable Oil Sands Systems Lab (IROSSL) is working with Copperstone Technologies to conduct soil-sample research using a Husky UGV outfitted with a variety of payloads and sensors. The research investigates oil sand tailings deposits in an effort to better understand the safety and transformation of tailings deposits over a period of time.

A tailings deposit pond is a pool of mud deposits that have been left to dry out. The deposits in Alberta, however, are taking longer than expected to dry and plans to reclaim and develop the sites into parks and communities have been delayed. Tailings deposit ponds are very rugged and often have a hard, crusted layer of mud on the surface with soft, wet mud below ground.

"Traditional methods for soil collection are completed by human operators - they are labor intensive, expensive, unreliable, and not accurate," said lead research Nicolas Olmedo. "The capabilities and adaptable nature of Husky have enabled us to make unique modifications to the platform in order to transport all of our instruments and payloads."

The Husky platform was selected for this research because of its ability to handle a variety of application-specific payloads and a high payload weight. The research team has customized Husky to be fully equipped with an ice auger to drill into the surface of the ponds, treads to traverse the rugged terrains of tailings deposits, and modified sensory instruments to determine parameter estimation and real-time data collection. Additionally, sensor integration, monitoring systems, estimation algorithms and tele-operation were all integrated using ROS (Robot Operating System).

"This research absolutely fits into the dull and dirty categories of robotics that we hoped people would use our platforms for," said Julian Ware, General Manager for Research Products at Clearpath Robotics. "It's great to see customers building upon, and customizing, Husky UGV to tackle these types of environmental problems."

The University of Alberta research team, in partnership with Copperstone Technologies, have successfully presented the technology to some of Canada's top ranked organizations within the oil sands industry in Fort McMurray. Oil sands operators have expressed interest in continuing to work with the team and are eager to see the research progress.

About Clearpath Robotics

Clearpath Robotics, a global leader in unmanned vehicle robotics for research and development, is dedicated to automating the world's dullest, dirtiest, and deadliest jobs. The Company serves robotics leaders in over 30 countries worldwide in academic, mining, military, agricultural and industrial markets. Recognizing the value of future innovation, the Company proudly supports programs that facilitate growth within the academic disciplines of science, technology, engineering and math (STEM). Clearpath Robotics provides robust solutions that are engineered for performance and designed for the customer - we are your unmanned experts. Visit Clearpath Robotics at, follow us on Twitter @clearpathrobots or like us on Facebook.

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