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Snowbotics: Paving the Way for a Shovel-free Holiday

December 23, 2022 by Stephanie Leonida

With snow piling up in many parts of the world this holiday season, the use of robotic and autonomous technologies are being used to pave the way on driveways and runways for a shovel-free snow season.

As the festive season draws near, individuals are facing harsh winter conditions to get in those last-minute Christmas present runs and jet-set to spend Christmas with their loved ones. Many may be daunted by the notion of stepping out onto frosty, snow-covered driveways or flying overseas in harsh weather conditions, least of all delays that might be caused by snow-blanketed airport runways.

But have no fear, Santa’s snowbotic winter helpers are here to help save Christmas!


snow removal / RSC 250 runway sweeper

Traditional methods of snow removal involve shoveling and the use of runway sweepers, like the Øveraasen’s RSC 250. Image used courtesy of Øveraasen 

 

Robotic Snow Blower

A globally recognized company that specializes in the development of yard maintenance products, Hanyang Technology, brought residents a snow-clearing solution in the form of the automated Snowbot. 

The Snowbot S1 Pro features an emergency stop function, a security warning, and a buzzer alarm, as well as automatic obstacle avoidance to enhance safety for users. The bot is fitted out with anti-slip tracks to provide a grip on the ground while preventing damage. An anti-theft system is also present to prevent the Snowbot from being stolen. 

The S1 Pro can help users clear wet, dry, and packed snow at their homes and comes with a snow cleaning capacity of up to 10 inches per 1,500 square feet. The bot can also fling snow away at a distance of 20 feet.

 

Yarbo Snow Blower

During the summer of 2022, Snowbot announced the change of its name to Yarbo, centering on a new logo design and multifunctional product. The Yarbo brand is owned by Yarbo, Inc., based in New York.

 

Watch as the Snow Blower S1 clears away snow. Video used courtesy of Yarbo 

 

The Yarbo Snow Blower S1 has a main body and attachment area to fit different parts for different tasks. Users can fit the snow blower, leaf blower, snow plow, and sweeper attachment when desired. Ice and snow gathered by the auger are passed to the chute to be jettisoned up to 40 feet away. 

One cool feature of the Yarbo bot is that it can be remotely controlled via a mobile app or a gaming-style controller, bringing a fun gaming element to something that was once considered a chore. 

In terms of the Yarbo Snow Blower being the “world’s first intelligent” snow-shifting bot, it operates by using advanced algorithms to create a working schedule for multiple zones to tackle various kinds of front and/or back yards. 

 

Yarbo snow blower s1

The Snow Blower S1 can tackle different types of snow in different types of yards. Image used courtesy of Yarbo
 

Areas of different shapes (such as ovals, rectangles, or polygons) can be allocated for cleaning by Snow Blower S1 to suit different requirements for different yards. 

A proprietary positioning vision system (PPVS) uses real-time kinematic positioning (RTK), a geographical positioning system (GPS), intelligent algorithms, sensors, and computer vision to help users achieve more accurate positioning. 

RTK is considered to be a unique kind of differential GPS that provides greater accuracy. With the RTK-GPS technology, the Yarbo Snow Blower can locate its docking station and navigate autonomously. The bot also employs a real-time camera and radar system for detecting and avoiding potential obstructions. 

 

Autonomous Snow Plow

As early as 2018, companies have been working together to scale up snow removal technologies. Airport operator, Finavia, worked alongside four other companies (including Nokian Tyres, Valtra, Vammas, and Neste) to create an automated solution for clearing Snow in Northern airports. The Runway Snowbot experiment took place in one of the northernmost airports in the European Union, Ivalo, Finland in 2018-2019.

 

Watch as autonomous runway sweepers are used for snow removal at this Finnish airport. Video used courtesy of Valtra
 

The experiment turned what was once an idea into reality with an automated snow-clearing tractor using low-carbon renewable diesel. 

An Airport operator based in nearby Norway, Avinor, signed a framework agreement covering eight years with the snow-clearing equipment manufacturer, Øveraasen, to change the future of winter airport operations with autonomous runway sweeping machines. Autonomous solutions provider, Yeti Move, was positioned as a subcontractor under the contract and agreed to deliver autonomous technology and information technology. 

For Avinor, the autonomous runway sweepers are a way of minimizing resource waste and encouraging safer, and more sustainable operations. Additionally, by setting up an automated platform dedicated to snow removal, airport personnel can work on automating other operations to keep airports running smoothly and more efficiently. 

 

Robotic Snow Removal

With snow piling up in many parts of the world this holiday season, the use of robotic and autonomous technologies are literally paving the way on driveways and runways for a shovel-free snow season.