Gang Plowing Using DGPS

Principal Investigator(s):

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

Project summary:

Gang plowing is one method used by Mn/DOT to increase the productivity of snowplow operations. However, these gains in productivity often come at the expense of increased driver stress. These higher stress levels are the result of the low visibility caused by the snow clouds created by the lead snowplow and by anxious drivers trying to pass between the slower moving plows. This research aims to improve gang plowing through the use of a driver assistive system combining tactile steering feedback with throttle and brake actuators to help the driver of the following vehicle maintain the proper distance and lane position behind the lead vehicle.

The driver assistive package provides for improved safety on two fronts. First, driver stress and therefore driver fatigue will be reduced; alert drivers are in better control of their vehicles. Second, the driver assistive system allows a tighter formation for the plows, reducing the opportunity for a rogue motorist to try and squeeze in between the ganged snowplows. A side scanning laser sensor and a "virtual mirror" are also used to detect the rogue motorist trying to violate the gang formation.

This research builds on the driver assistive work done under the Specialty Vehicle Initiative pooled fund project. The results of the work performed under this project provide a means to demonstrate this approach to gang plowing on an actual road, Minnesota Trunk Highway 101 between Rogers and Elk River.

Project details:

  • Project number: 2002038
  • Start date: 10/2002
  • Project status: Completed
  • Research area: Transportation Safety and Traffic Flow
  • Topics: Intelligent vehicles

Reports or Products: