Fascinating Ice Vehicle for Extreme Conditions

By: | December 13th, 2012

Land-based crossings of the whole Antarctic continent have only been achieved twice. Both expeditions took many months because of the terrain and the type of vehicles used.

The Moon Regan Transantarctic Expedition will use three vehicles: the Winston Wong Bio-Inspired Ice Vehicle (BIV) and two six-wheel drive Science Support Vehicles (SSVs) which will act as mobile laboratories. Ground-penetrating radar will test the ice for dangerous crevasses ahead and help keep the Expedition safe.


The Winston Wong Bio-Inspired Ice Vehicle is the lead vehicle of the Moon Regan Transantarctic Expedition. The BIV is an agile route-finder – with a single driver – for the two Science Support Vehicles (SSVs) which carry the other ten members of the Expedition and act as mobile laboratories for the Expedition.

The BIV is light, bio-fuelled and engineered to counter anything that the coldest, driest, windiest place on Earth can throw at it.

Commissioned by Expedition founders Andrew Regan and Andrew Moon, the BIV bears the name of the Expedition sponsor, Professor Winston Wong, leading Taiwanese businessman and alumnus and generous donor to Imperial College London, the Expedition’s science partner.

Facts and figures

  • Originally developed with an 1150 BMW engine adapted to run on E85 bioethanol.  The engine was changed in the run up to the 2010 Expedition to a Rotax 914, which will be better suited to lower temperatures and higher altitude and is proven to deliver more horsepower
  • The BIV is bio-fuelled. The Expedition will monitor the performance of bio-fuel in this harshest of environments
  • The BIV has the minimum possible number of moving parts
  • It has a three blade variable-pitch propeller
  • There are three skis with independent suspension and a spiked brake for efficient stopping
  • Its weight is around 700kgs
  • Its top speed is around 84mph
  • Its size is approximately 4.5 m long and 4.5 m wide
  • The BIV carries only one driver. Driving will be shared by the 11-man Expedition team over the 3600 mile/40 day journey across Antarctica
  • The BIV is light and can be manhauled if necessary over difficult sastrugi terrain


The Expedition will use two six-wheel drive Science Support Vehicles. The SSVs will carry the team and act as mobile laboratories for the research being undertaken for Imperial College London.

The Expedition team hopes to demonstrate that wheel-based land vehicles are the best option – and less harmful environmentally than air travel – for long distance travel over frozen terrain. The SSVs are converted Ford Econolines.

Facts and figures

  • All wheels can be independently driven
  • Low emission, turbo-charged, fuel-injected, 7.3 litre, V8 diesel engine
  • Tyres are 44 inches high and 21 inches wide
  • Overall the vehicles are each 6.5 metres long, 2.54 metres wide and 2.52 metres tall
  • Each vehicle weighs 4.7 tonnes
  • High wattage solar panels will power all scientific equipment on board
  • The vehicle carries snow melters to provide water for the team

Check out the Moon Regan Trans-antarctic Expedition.

Jeremy Helms

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