Daimler self-driving snow removal trucks built for plowing at airports initially

October 19th, 2017 by  on Clean Technica

As part of its embrace of self-driving vehicle tech, and following earlier demonstrations of self-driving semi trucks, Daimler has now demonstrated fully self-driving snow removal trucks on the site of the former Pferdsfeld airbase.

The demonstration follows a specific customer request for self-driving snow removal trucks to be used for the clearance of airfields during the winter.

The project — dubbed “Automated Airfield Ground Maintenance” (AAGM) — demonstration was performed using 4 Mercedes-Benz Arocs tractor units, operating as a remote-controlled convoy.

The reported key benefit: since airfield clearance opportunities are hard to predict in advance and plan for owing to rapid weather changes in winter, the approach allows for better utilization of such opportunists (owing to the need to not schedule staff well in advance). There are also potential costs savings.

Green Car Congress provides more: “The four Arocs test vehicles are equipped with the new Remote Truck Interface (RTI) for remotely controlling vehicle functions and exchanging data. The RTI is the centerpiece of the new technology, for which Daimler can draw on a significant pool of knowledge and engineering from projects such as the advanced Highway Pilot and Highway Pilot Connect systems.

“All vehicles are fully interlinked via the RTI by means of telematic systems, all operate automated and all are able to lead or follow in the vehicle convoy. Specifically, this means that a convoy leader chooses a random unit from a fleet of available semitrailer combinations and defines this as the lead truck. The leader then uses a control panel to define the number and sequence of the other convoy vehicles, and conducts a pre-operation inspection of the semitrailer combinations…All vehicles are equipped with dual GPS tracking (DGPS) and of course state-of-the-art vehicle-to-vehicle communication (V2V communication) technology.”

Notably, while the convoy used in the demonstration was composed of only 4 vehicles, the approach can be scaled up to work with up to 14 vehicles.

Altogether, it’s probably not a very important piece of news in the long-run, but it’s still worth keeping an eye on as a marker for the further automation of many of the “unskilled” jobs still out there. In this case, it seems pretty likely that the tech actually will do a “better” job (with regard to the parameters most operators will be looking at, and the potential cost savings) than most humans are able to do in rough weather conditions.