Research & development in the field of robotics can be very time-consuming, technical, and complex, especially if the concepts that are being explored are novel or groundbreaking, as they often are. In that sense, we are glad that our out-of-the-box robotic platforms can ease project pain points and ultimately facilitate faster and more productive research.

Although we have a comprehensive knowledge base on our website with robot tutorials & guides, as well as videos, sometimes teams encounter problems that they can’t triage themselves. Our support team is the first point of contact for any such challenges with your platform and can either direct you to the right resources or provide their own tips and tricks. To help keep your project on track, we’ve started a new blog series known as “Clearpath FAQ” which will outline common questions that our support team receives as well as the appropriate answers to help streamline your help requests. Below are some tips to help keep your robots’ batteries healthy and performing optimally. For the purpose of counting charge cycles on a battery, a “full charge” is considered to be from “fully depleted” to “fully charged”.

The best course of action to keep your robots’ batteries healthy is to be proactive in your care. A well-maintained battery will have a longer life cycle and keep you focused on your robotics project. To help you maintain your batteries, below we’ve included a variety of suggestions that we recommend.

Husky UGV

Storage:

When powered down, most Husky UGVs will not draw power from their battery. So, storing your Husky UGV with the battery connected should cause no long-term damage to the battery. However for safety, and to avoid the chance of accidentally turning on the Husky UGV, we recommend unplugging the battery when not in use. To preserve the life of a lead-acid battery, always store it in a charged state. To preserve the life of a lithium battery, always try to store it with at least 50% charge.

Shipping:

Husky UGV must ship with the battery disconnected. This can be done by disconnecting the battery inside the battery bay. In the case of a weatherproof Husky UGV, the battery charge port dongle should be removed and then capped off with the waterproof shipping cap.

Charging:

A lead-acid battery should be recharged soon after use using the included lead-acid charger. A lithium battery should be charged when it has dropped below 50% state-of-charge. Always try to let the charger complete its full charge cycle before removing the battery. Allow the battery to warm up to at least 10°C before charging.

Replacement:

Ideally, lead-acid batteries can be recharged about 500 times before replacement should be considered. Lithium batteries can be recharged 300-500 times. That number will be lower if the battery has been allowed to discharge further than 22V on one or more occasions. If you have an older Husky or use it very frequently, you may have noticed that the runtime has started to decrease. It may be time to replace the battery. Please contact Clearpath Robotics for more information.

Jackal UGV

Storage:

When powered down, Jackal UGV will draw a small amount of power from its battery. For short periods of time (i.e. overnight or a few days) this should not cause any harm to the battery unless it is already at a very low state of charge. However for safety, and to avoid the chance of accidentally turning on Jackal UGV, we recommend unplugging the battery when not in use. To preserve the life of a lithium battery, always try to store it with at least 50% charge.

Shipping:

Jackal UGV must ship with its battery disconnected. This can be done by disconnecting the battery inside the battery bay.

Charging:

The Jackal UGV lithium battery should be charged when it has dropped below 50% state-of-charge. Always try to let the charger complete its full charge cycle before removing the battery. Do not leave the Jackal battery charger connected to the battery unattended for long periods of time. Allow the battery to warm up to at least 10°C before charging.

Should the Jackal’s battery ever get into a state where it will no longer accept a charge from the battery charger, its BMS may have activated its under-voltage lockout. It may be possible to rescue the battery from this state; please contact Clearpath Robotics support for more information.

Jackal UGV has an HMI battery indicator located on the back of the robot. Here is a breakdown of the various colors that the indicator might be displaying depending on the state of charge:

  • Green (solid): 100% – 50%
  • Green (flashing): 49% – 20%
  • Red: Under 20%

Replacement:

Ideally, lithium batteries can be recharged about 300-500 times before replacement should be considered. That number will be lower if the battery has been allowed to discharge further than 21V on one or more occasions. If you have an older Jackal or use it very frequently, you may have noticed that the runtime has started to decrease. It may be time to replace the battery. Please contact Clearpath Robotics for more information.

Ridgeback

Storage:

When powered down, Ridgeback will draw a small amount of power from its battery. For short periods of time (overnight or a few days) this should not cause any harm to the battery. Longer periods of time can deplete the battery to the point that it will no longer accept a charge, leading to a costly battery replacement. To preserve the life of the Ridgeback lead-acid battery, always store it in a fully charged state.

The integrated Ridgeback charger will “time out” after about 12 hours of being plugged in. After this point, it will no longer maintain the charge of the Ridgeback battery even if it is still connected to an outlet. If the Ridgeback will be stored for an extended period of time (i.e. weeks or months), connect its built-in charger to an electronic wall timer set to be “on” for two hours every 24 hour period. This will allow the integrated charger to reset and keep the Ridgeback battery topped up and fresh.

Shipping:

Ensure that Ridgeback is powered off for shipping and that nothing will accidentally press its power button.

Charging:

The integrated Ridgeback charger will fully charge the internal lead-acid battery in a few hours. The charger will time out after 12 hours, so be sure to power cycle (by unplugging and re-plugging) the charger on a daily basis. Allow the battery to warm up to at least 10°C before charging.

When the battery is running low on charge, the corner lights will start to flash yellow. This is your indication that the Ridgeback should be plugged in to charge soon. It is possible to check the battery voltage via ROS, where it is available as one of the system status topics. It is also possible to measure the battery voltage directly while the system is on, by probing the large red and black connector in the Ridgeback user bay. Use a multimeter set to DC Volts. The battery should measure at least 22V (very low state of charge) to 27.6V (recently charged). Any lower than 22V is dangerous for the health of the battery.

Replacement:

Ideally, lead-acid batteries can be recharged about 500 times before replacement should be considered. That number will be lower if the battery has been allowed to discharge further than 21.6V on one or more occasions. If you have an older Ridgeback or use it very frequently, you may have noticed that the runtime has started to decrease. It may be time to replace the batteries. Please contact Clearpath Robotics for more information.

Warthog UGV

Storage:

When powered down, most Warthog UGVs will draw no power from their battery. To preserve the life of a Warthog UGV with a lead-acid battery, always store it in a charged state. To preserve the life of a lithium battery, always try to store it with at least 50% charge.

Shipping:

Ensure that the Warthog UGV is powered off for shipping and that nothing will accidentally power it on. We recommend putting a lock or zip-tie around the switch lockout loops to prevent accidental activation.

Charging:

A lead-acid battery should be recharged soon after use using the included lead-acid charger. A lithium battery should be charged when it has dropped below 50% state-of-charge. Always try to let the charger complete its full charge cycle before removing the battery. The charger will time out after 12 hours, so be sure to power cycle (by unplugging and re-plugging) the charger on a daily basis. Allow the battery to warm up to at least 10°C before charging.

Replacement:

Ideally, lead-acid batteries can be recharged about 500 times before replacement should be considered. Lithium batteries can be charged 300-500 times. That number will be lower if the battery has been allowed to discharge further than 43.2V on one or more occasions. If you have an older Warthog or use it very frequently, you may have noticed that the runtime has started to decrease. It may be time to replace the batteries. Please contact Clearpath Robotics for more information.

Heron USV

Storage:

When powered down, most Heron USVs will draw no power from their battery. So, storing your Heron USV with the battery connected should cause no long-term damage to the battery. However for safety, and to avoid the chance of accidentally turning on the Heron USV, we recommend unplugging the battery when not in use. To preserve the life of the NiMH battery, always store it in a charged state. NiMH batteries will naturally self-discharge over time, so it is important to “top up” the charge on the battery at least every 30 days.

Shipping:

Heron USV must ship with the battery disconnected. This can be done by disconnecting the battery from the battery input.

Charging:

Always use the charger included with the Heron USV. To preserve the life of the battery, use a slower charge rate if possible. The battery will naturally self-discharge over time, so it is important to “top up” the charge on the battery at least every 30 days. Allow the battery to warm up to at least 10°C before charging.

Replacement:

Ideally, NiMH batteries can be recharged 700-1000 times. That number will be lower if the battery has been allowed to discharge further than 12V on one or more occasions. If you have an older Heron or Kingfisher or use it very frequently, you may have noticed that the runtime has started to decrease. It may be time to replace the battery. Please contact Clearpath Robotics for more information!

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