Driver Assist System Pilot for Minnesota Snowplows

Principal Investigator(s):

Max Donath, Professor, Mechanical Engineering


  • Craig Shankwitz, Fmr Director, Intelligent Veh. Lab, Mechanical Engineering

Project summary:

Plowing snow in low-visibility conditions is a difficult and dangerous road maintenance activity. The Driver Assist System (DAS), which provides a snowplow operator lane-keeping and collision-avoidance capability in low-visibility conditions, allows a plow driver to support highway operations in low- and zero-visibility conditions. The approach is to install the University's Intelligent Vehicles (IV) Lab Driver Assist System on a MnDOT snowplow equipped with the Maintenance Decision Support System (MDSS). Running the DAS on the MDSS minimizes incremental cost, as the MDSS driver touch display, MDSS computer, and MDSS cellular connection will be used to support the DAS. The IV Lab has cooperated already with Ameritrak (provider of the MDSS system), and has shown that the DAS will run concurrently with the MDSS on the Ameritrak hardware. By concurrently running the DAS and MDSS on the same hardware, a significant cost savings is realized. The question that should be answered as part of this work is whether the incremental benefit of the DAS outweighs the incremental cost of adding the DAS to the MDSS, and if so, by how much. By assessing the benefits and costs, MnDOT will have the data needed to make deployment decisions for the DAS.

Project details: