Airports are at the mercy of cold winter weather, where snow can cause disruption and delays, as well as pose a major safety issue. However, autonomous vehicles are being developed to clear snow from runways to help airports stay open, reduce their costs and make them safer.
Semcon, a Swedish technology company that specializes in developing products for problem solving solutions, has revealed it will be devising a smart way to clear snow from landing lights using an autonomous tractor.
Performing the typically time-consuming job, which currently has to be carried out manually, vehicles will be able to follow digital patterns on the runways and navigate using RTK GPS, an accurate form of position measurement, and communicate using 4G modems.
“It may seem like a little thing, but runways are shut down if 15% of their lights are disabled – and that results in significant delays and costs money. There are major benefits to be gained by using autonomous solutions here, not least when it comes to enhancing the safety of both aircraft and personnel,” said Anne Piegsa, technical project manager at Semcon.
The project, which will be demonstrated at Örnsköldsvik Airport in Sweden next year, is being implemented by Semcon in partnership with Lundberg Hymas whose tractor will be turned autonomous.
It will be possible to steer these vehicles remotely from a traffic management center developed by Yeti Snow Technology, and it will be possible to interrupt the clearing of snow to allow an aircraft to land.
“Smart automation of airports will make it possible to keep more of the smaller, less busy airports open and retain staff thanks to reduced costs and increased safety,” added Piegsa.