One of the more unusual and fascinating events happening at the Saint Paul Winter Carnival this year (actually should say for the last five years) is the ION Autonomous Snowplow Competition. And seeing as this is the “Land of Snowplows” (we are coining this term), I thought it would be appropriate to cover it. Also anything that would make it so that I don’t have to go out and shovel is a win in my book!
A competition designed to encourage students and individuals to utilize the state of the art in navigation and control technologies to rapidly, accurately and safely clear a path of snow. This year, eight teams from the US and Canada will be coming to downtown St. Paul to claim the title of having the best autonomous robotic snowplow.
The teams are challenged to create autonomous snowplows using technologies such as GPS, Laser navigation and optical navigation to create a machine that is able to clear a path of snowfield, in configurations that mimic sidewalks and driveways. This competition is to help drive innovation in the future industry of autonomous robots that will eventually become part of our every day lives.
Teams are judged on how much snow is removed, how quickly it is removed and how the machine reacts to different obstacles placed in its path.
This year, teams from the University of Minnesota – Twin Cities, North Dakota State University, Dunwoody College of Technology, Miami University (of Ohio), Case Western Reserve University, University of Michigan – Dearborn, and the University of Calgary will all be competing for significant cash prizes as well as the title of top school.
Where / When
West 4th Street, between Rice Park and the Saint Paul Public Library on Friday, January 23, 2015
Each team’s robotic snowplow is assessed and tested for safety by a team of professional engineers, beginning at 1 PM, first come, first served
Competition runs begin on the half-hour, beginning at 9 AM, through 1 PM; Saturday, January 24, 2015 – Competition Day 1, the “Single I” snowfield; Sunday, January 25, 2015 – Competition Day 2, the “Triple I” snowfield
Competition runs begin on the half-hour, beginning at 10 AM, through 2 PM
Awards ceremony to begin approximately at 2:30 PM
* Times are subject to change based on weather conditions
In addition to the vehicle-related events of this competition, the Student Presentations portion of this competition will be held on Thursday, 22 January 2015 at the the Science Museum of Minnesota.
The Institute of Navigation Autonomous Snowplow Competition is sponsored by many fine companies: Honeywell, Lockheed Martin, ATK, ASTER Labs, The Toro Company, John Deere, US Bank, SpaceX, Nuts & Volts Magazine, SERVO Magazine, ProtoLabs
To learn more, visit autosnowplow.com to learn more about the competition and additional information.