Semcon is developing an autonomous tractor to keep runway edge lights clear of snow as part of a research project investigating new airport maintenance technology. Automation, the company says, can be used to reduce costs while also increasing efficiency and quality. The technology has now been tested for the first time at Örnsköldsvik Airport in Sweden.
The AVAP (Autonomous Vehicles for AirPorts) research project is a unique collaboration project that aims to demonstrate how vehicle automation can safely help to reduce costs and make airport operation more efficient.
Other parts of the project relate to monitoring solutions using drones, automatic mowing and friction measurement systems. These systems and vehicles have now been demonstrated together for the first time at Örnsköldsvik Airport (OER).
The tractor used for the project is a Lundberg 6250, around 7.9 ft. tall, 16.4 ft. long (without attachments) and weighing just over 6 tons. Besides sensors for scanning the environment, it has been fitted with a computer for intelligent control and management of the commands sent to it. This tractor is given a plowing task by an operator via 4G and then calculates how to complete the task, constantly communicating its position and status. Air traffic controllers can also monitor and communicate with the vehicle. The control system used was developed by Yeti Snow Technology, co-owned by Semcon, Husqvarna Group and Øveraasen, and is currently undergoing testing as part of projects involving autonomous snowplows at an airport for Norwegian airport operator Avinor.