Future Mobility

Autonomous snow plows given clearance

When it comes to removing snow from the tarmac, an entire convoy of plows has to be orchestrated. In the future, Daimler AG wants to automate this task.

20 Oct. 2017
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Source: Daimler AG

At the premises of the former Pferdsfeld air base, Daimler demonstrated how an automatically concentrated snow plow deployment can be implemented in practice, in collaboration with Fraport, the operator of the Frankfurt Airport. Until now, the airport has used up to 14 plows, with overlapping deployment. In the test, four Arocs tractor units from Mercedes-Benz cleaned the tarmac in a remote-controlled network: A convoy leader selects any available tractor unit combination from a fleet and defines it as the leading truck. Next, the leader sets the number and order of the other vehicles – from within this truck. A pre-defined plow program specifies the routes, direction, and speed, and the tractor units follow the route with a precision of ±3 cm. As the only mechanical driver, the convoy leader keeps control over the vehicle at all times.

For years, Daimler has worked on systems for semiautomatic or fully automatic commercial vehicles. Most recently, the corporation started a major test with networked convoys in Oregon and Nevada. But these snow plows are being used on private properties. The results of this research may later be useful in similar situations, such as driverless operation in mines, container terminals, or other closed properties.

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