snow. One of the most popular designs for
this aspect has been the single blade, which is
set at an angle to direct the snow to an area
outside of the snowfield. This is similar to a
design that would be found on a normal
larger snowplow attached to a truck.
Using a single blade, however, would
require multiple passes along the snow path
to remove all the displaced snow, or a large
enough blade to cover the entirety of the one
meter path. As for powering the snowplow
vehicles, there were no gas-powered engines
competing this past year, as all of the vehicles
The awards for the snowplow
competition are based on the amount of
points a team receives during their run. One
main qualifier for point accumulation is the
speed at which the run is completed. This is
measured by the implementation of a
“garage” zone: a designated space that the
vehicle must start from at the beginning of
the run, and return to at the end of a run.
This mimics the function that these vehicles would
need to possess in a real world marketplace to return to the
owner’s garage or place of storage, so the robot can
operate completely autonomously without the help of the
There are three ways that teams can potentially lose
points during their run. The first is an outer zone boundary
infraction which occurs if the team’s vehicle passes the
outer boundaries set in the Single-I and Triple-I fields. The
teams would also receive a point deduction if they were to
declare a restart, in which they would stop a run and
manually reposition the vehicle back in the garage zone.
Finally, points are lost if vehicles hit or move either a
fixed or moving obstacle positioned on the course. The final
scores determine the winners of the competition and who
the recipients of the many awards available are.
The 2018 competition will take place in conjunction
with the Saint Paul Winter Carnival as it usually does, but
will also be a precedence to the NFL Superbowl happening
a week later at the US Bank Stadium in Minneapolis.
Because of this, the event this year is expected to attract
higher traffic than previous years, and will likely spread
public interest in the event and the innovative spirit it
This year’s event will have many returning teams
sporting new and improved vehicles. The teams have been
putting countless hours into the construction of their robots
for the 2018 competition, and many have already sent in
their vehicle design approaches to the judges.
Last year’s First Place winner, Case Western Reserve
University’s OTTO XL team is planning to build a differential
drive robot that utilizes a beacon system, an Inertial
Measurement Unit (IMU), and wheel encoders to localize
itself within the area, along with a combination of cameras
and LIDAR for obstacle detection and identification.
Their Snow Jok team will build a snowplow vehicle with
a four-wheel skid steer platform and 24V gear motors
driven by low-cost embedded electronics. An active beacon
system will allow their robot to determine its position, and
inertial measurements will allow the estimation of its
orientation. They also noted that Snow Jok will be
specifically programmed to enjoy the cold weather.
Dunwoody College of Technology’s Snow Devils Team
will utilize a two-wheel drive chassis and magnetic strip
navigation system. The goal this year will be to interface an
Allen Bradley PLC controller to both the magnetic sensor
and Roboteq motor controller. This will allow more team
members to take part in code development and debugging.
Additionally, a secondary ultra-sonic sensing system is
planned for moving obstacle detection.
Dunwoody College of Technology’s second team,
Wendigo will utilize a four-wheel drive chassis that weighs
approximately 1,500 pounds. The goal this year will be to
interface an Allen Bradley PLC controller to a vision-based
navigation system and obstacle detection sensors.
Iowa State University’s Cyplow will be a skid steer robot
with a computer vision system to detect obstacles, and a
secondary system on the side of the field to perform
localization with OpenCV’s ArUco module.
Marquette University’s Arnold will be a hydraulically
powered vehicle with all-wheel drive, skid steering, UTV
tires, and fixed angle UTV plow. The vehicle is powered by
a 35 HP internal combustion engine and weighs
approximately 600 pounds.
New Jersey Institute of Technology’s Snobot will build a
SERVO 01.2018 31
University of Michigan Dearborn’s Yeti 7.0.