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Clearpath develops autonomous ice resurfacer that smooths skating rink with GPS navigation

Every year, Clearpath Robotics holds a Hack Day – an entire workday dedicated to pet robotics projects to push and challenge itself. Numerous teams come together to draft and build out their ideas from the ground up and then present them to the entire Clearpath team. (See video below.) 

This is the chance to test out fun experiments in a supportive and constructive environment. This year, however, one team decided to stick close to Clearpath’s Canadian roots.

For Hack Day 2021, a team presented an autonomous ice resurfacer using Husky UGV equipped with its GPS Waypoint Navigation package.

This outdoor navigation package allows a mobile robot like the Husky to traverse a predefined route of GPS waypoints. Its area coverage capabilities make it perfect for an ice resurfacing application.

What exactly does that “area coverage” mean?

Generated motions converted into a GPS navigation mission.

Well, area coverage planning is the task of determining a path or mission for the robot to pass through all points of an area or volume without colliding with any obstacles. Solutions to this problem have applications in many fields such as lawn mowing, snow plowers, demining, agriculture and in this case, ice resurfacing.

The Clearpath Robotics area coverage algorithm augments the existing GPS navigation software solution by generating missions that cover the desired area.

The solution works by receiving the GPS coordinates of the corner points of a desired polygon area and distance between and orientation of covering rows from the user and then producing a set simple line with non-overlapping motion trajectories for the robot that cover all points in the target area.

While the GPS navigation autonomy system handles avoiding dynamic obstacles, static known obstacles (like buildings, equipment, and so on) can be defined as an exclusion area for the area coverage system.

As such, Clearpath’s solutions satisfy all of the standard requirements for coverage path planning defined in the literature.

Clearpath says it has enjoyed all the creativity that it has seen on Hack Days and looks forward to the next one.

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