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Scientists to Use Robots in Upcoming Antarctic Expedition

China will for the first time use robots, one that can move on ice and snow surface and another capable of low-altitude flying like a mini-helicopter in an Antarctic expedition scheduled for October.

The tank-like robot, which can move on ice, weighs 200 kilograms and can carry 40 kg of burden and pull 100 kg of objects with a maximum working radius of 25 kilometers, according to Qin Weijia, deputy director of the Polar Research Institute of China.

The robot can automatically stride across ice crevasses and snowy slopes, Qin said.

The robot will be equipped with a differential global positioning system (DGPS) and a meteorological observation device.

Another robot, weighing 20 kg, can carry five kg of burden and fly at a speed of 50 to 100 km per hour. It can continually fly for one hour.

The robot will be equipped with an infra-red radiometer for observing ice on the sea and an aerial camera.

"The use of robots can reduce the risks and costs in scientific research," said Qin. "No matter how bad the weather is, they can still work normally."

The Chinese expedition team, consisting 219 explorers, will start their journey to the Antarctic in October from Shanghai. It is the 24th expedition for Chinese scientists.

They will set up two seismic stations in Antarctica to measure tremors and tectonic movements on the continent.

They will also try to find whether there is ice as old as 1.5 million years on the continent during the expedition.

(Xinhua News Agency August 27, 2007)

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