Autonomous snowplows pass the runway test

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Autonomous snowplows have reduced delays at a Norwegian airport, and brought closer the possibility of a wider roll-out of the intelligent machines.

Yeti Snow Technology – a project jointly run by Semcon and Overaasen – saw self-driving snowplows deployed at Fagernes Airport, the first time such vehicles have been relied upon to clear an airport runway.

Take-off and landing runways are required to be completely clear of snow in order for flights to depart and arrive on time, so staff are required to be on standby to clear snow whenever necessary.

Measuring 20m long and 5.5m wide, the autonomous snowplows included autonomous technology intended to increase efficiency and reduce aircraft delays.

Last week, self-driving plows were introduced at the airport, which is located 200km north of Oslo, on behalf of the Norwegian airport operator Avinor.

“Autonomous snowplows will allow airports all over the world to streamline their activities and reduce delays for their passengers. This is a good example of how autonomous vehicles can increase profitability and add value for people,” says Markus Granlund (above), CEO at Semcon.

The self-driving vehicles are capable of clearing 357,500m2 per hour and can perform in formation for greater efficiency.

Semcon project manager John Emil Halden said, “We have designed a control system that sets up digital patterns for autonomous snow clearance at airports. The system can then download these patterns and monitor a number of vehicles that navigate using RTK GPS, an accurate form of position measurement, and communicate using 4G modems.”

March 23, 2018

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James joined the Industrial Vehicle Technology International team in 2017. Previously he was Assistant Editor on an engineering title for several years and has worked for various other trade magazines before that. James is happily married and has a young daughter who keeps him busy.

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