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Open Access Publications from the University of California

A real-world application of lane-guidance technologies - Automated snowblower

  • Author(s): Tan, Han-Shue
  • Bu, Fanping
  • Bougler, Benedicte
  • et al.

This paper describes the development process and the initial field test results of an automated snowblower, focusing on one of the more difficult snow removal operations: blowing snow off the freeway alongside a guardrail without the snowblower touching the guardrail. The development process includes transforming this highway winter maintenance operation into a control problem, modeling a snowblower, designing control algorithms, devising a human-machine interface, and equipping a 20-ton snowblower with sensors and an actuator. Specific challenges include modeling the low-speed tire-induced oscillation, designing high-gain automatic control on front wheels while keeping rear steering under driver control, and implementing such a system under practical limitations. A new dynamic deflection tire model is incorporated into a bicycle model to account for the additional lateral dynamics. A low-order controller was first generated based on the understanding of the specific control problem and, then, refined and tuned iteratively using linear-matrix-inequality optimization. The initial winter field tests were successfully conducted with embedded magnetic markers along the guardrails installed on the shoulders of Interstate-80 in the Sierra Mountain region close to Donner Summit, CA, during the winter of 2005.

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