The HELIX family of amphibious robots is named for its unique mobility. Helical, screw-shaped pontoons allow HELIX to float on water or scroll across any terrain, including mud, snow, ice, and rocks.
We originally built HELIX for mining operations in Northern Canada, some of the harshest conditions in the world. We needed a robot that could carry heavy payloads across tailings ponds, in conditions that can be wet, muddy, snowy, and often sticky (sometimes all on the same day).
No technology could handle all of the required situations: boats could not handle shallow water or debris, aerial vehicles couldn’t carry the required payloads, and tracked or wheeled robots sank in the mud.
Inspired by designs of the past, we have modernized the screw-drive concept and developed HELIX, a patented combination of screw-propulsion and four-wheel drive capable of remote and autonomous operations.
Benefits of Using Helix
HELIX amphibious robots can successfully traverse hard ground, mud, tailings, snow, ice, and water. With 4-screw, skid-steer capabilities, HELIX can manoeuver specialized payloads into the most inaccessible of terrains.
Ability for heavy payloads
HELIX is designed to float on water or saturated soils and muds. Its large deck platform and high buoyancy allow heavy work such as water and mud sampling or geotechnical measurements, and add-on tanks allow for high push and pull forces.
Health and safety
Workers remain in safe environments while robots do the dangerous work. This is not only good practice, but a significant cost savings as well. HELIX can even be used to tow a stranded boat and/or be modified to act as a rescue vehicle.
Robots require fewer labour and equipment hours and are less expensive than conventional equipment, allowing more timely information to be gathered at lower cost. Robots can be used with fewer safety planning hours and be operational more quickly.
Our electrically-operated robots have no emissions and can be made intrinsically safe to help industrial operations become more sustainable.
Patented Amphibious Scroll Drive
The propulsion system of the HELIX has four individually driven scrolls, which act either as screw propellers or as wheels, depending on the situation. The scrolls of the HELIX are high-strength aluminum for durability and low weight, allowing good maneuverability in both screw propulsion and rolling, without compromising the payload that the HELIX can carry. The geometry of the scrolls is tuned to deliver optimal hydrodynamic performance. Other materials can be used for extreme environments, or for operations with less strenuous requirements.
The HELIX operates in either remote control or autonomous mode. In either case, there is ongoing communication between the rover and the operator who monitors the rover. In remote control mode, there is a separate radio controller as well as a digital radio link for telemetry. Rover performance and health monitoring is also archived on board the machine. Time stamps ensure that sensor and geographic information are accurately recorded. This approach to data acquisition enables data analytics and real-time feedback, which allows users to adjust as conditions change, decreasing costs while ensuring reliability.
Copperstone has extensive experience with autopilots. The desired path is described with a set of points, which the rover drives through while navigating along the path, and blending the motion to avoid overshooting. The distance between points can be user selected, and future features will allow for automatic path planning in a region defined simply by an operator on a map.
The HELIX uses permanent-magnet DC electric drive motors, which give a wide range of performance for both high torque and speed. Two configurations are available: internal hub motors which simplify field maintenance of scrolls, and external drive motors and final drive for higher performance configurations. An optional 2-speed transmission on some models allows an even higher performance range.
The payload bay of the HELIX allows for sensors and samplers to be mounted directly onto the rover, either in the middle of the rover or on the ends. Power and communication to an on board computer are available.
HELIX is a specialized delivery platform that can bring a variety of sensors and sampling tools to hazardous areas. HELIX amphibious robots can be ordered or customized in a variety of sizes and dimensions to maximize its utility for you. Custom sizes can vary from a small pipe crawler to heavy duty payload deployment or anything in between. HELIX is typically fabricated primarily with aluminum and can be customized in a variety of materials for chemical compatibility in extremely harsh environments. Stainless steel or titanium are options. HELIX scrolls can also be fabricated with low cost, high strength polymers and composites. Contact us to discuss your unique needs.
Payloads currently available include bathymetric sensors (single and multi-beam sonar, sub bottom profilers), remotely deployed geotechnical instruments with automatic measurements (vane shear viscometer and cone penetrometer), water and soil samplers based on industry standard methods, a deployment mast to deliver tools below the surface down to 4 m depth or more, a tooling magazine to do more than one measurement or sampling task in a single mission, and an auger to access regions of interest below ice or soil crusts.
HELIX Neptune is a multi-functional amphibious robot designed to tackle some extreme challenges. Employing patented screw-pontoon technologies, HELIX Neptune is amphibious, making land-water transitions smoothly with no requirement for human intervention, specialty gear or a boat launch ramp.
HELIX Neptune weighs in at 350 kg, with an additional 100 kg spare payload capacity for additional sensors and gear. HELIX Neptune typically travel at 1 m/s, but has additional thrusters to cruise on water at 2-3 m/s.
The robot has high torque motors for hill climbing and traversing through mud, sludge and tailings. Standard payloads include a single beam sonar, sampling tools, and multi-directional camera systems.
HELIX AR2 is a 700 kg amphibious robot capable of heavy hauling 300 kg of gear. Typically used in geotechnical surveys, HELIX AR2 can remotely deploy a CPT, Vane Shear or various sampling tools in mine tailings.
HELIX 25 has an open center bay for payload deployment through the rover or a versatile flat top deck. HELIX 25 was designed primarily for bathymetric surveys, although with its flat deck or open payload bay, it is truly a multi-purpose vehicle. HELIX 25 comfortably carries a 25 kg payload while maintaining buoyancy on open water. It has the torque and maneuverability to drive on hard ground, up small embankments, through mud or snow.
HELIX 25 typically travels at 1 m/s and can operate for several hours before a battery change or recharge. Long range radio communications permit remote operations of up to 3 km. Easily deployed from a pick-up truck, or shipped by air, HELIX 25 is ready to serve.