Autonomous Snowplow Competition

The Seventh Autonomous Snowplow Competition, taking place in
conjunction with the Saint Paul Winter Carnival in Minnesota, began on
January 26, 2017. Each team presented their vehicle design to a panel
of judges comprised of professional engineers from Honeywell, Hassig
Consulting, Orbital ATK, Optum, The Toro Company, University of
Minnesota, and UTC Aerospace Systems. The following days, teams were
judged on how quickly and accurately their machine cleared a
designated snowfield. The purpose of this competition is to challenge
university and college students to design, build, and operate a fully
autonomous snowplow to remove snow from a designated path. The
competition encourages students to utilize state of the art navigation
and control technologies to rapidly, accurately, and safely clear a
path of snow. Two types of snow paths were chosen for the teams to
clear. The first was a straight, single “I”-field, to represent a
straight sidewalk. This was scored by determining how much snow had
been removed after the vehicle finished its run. The second path was a
triple “I”-field, which was to represent a space similar to a single
car driveway which required the teams to strategize a way to clear the
space as quickly as possible. Obstacles included two posts, one inside
the path and one outside. If any part of a team’s vehicle struck the
post, the team would lose points. Obstacle detection and avoidance
strategies were part of some team’s designs. A new Moving Obstacle was
also added to the competition. Teams were to program their vehicles to
come to a complete stop once a “Stop” sign was introduced. Eight teams
competed in the dynamic events resulting in a win for team OTTO XL
from Case Western Reserve University in Ohio. The Eighth Annual
Competition will take place in Minneapolis on January 25th-28th, 2018.

Photo Credit: Elyse Colihan – Aster Labs
Photo Credit: Elyse Colihan – Aster Labs