Implementation of Lane Boundary Guidance System for Snowplow Operations

Principal Investigator(s):

Max Donath, Professor, Mechanical Engineering


Project summary:

Snowplow operators are often tasked with numerous monitoring and operational activities that they need to do simultaneously while removing snow and spreading deicing agents on the road. We have developed a Global Navigation Satellite System (GNSS)-based lane boundary guidance system to assist with plow operations when visibility is poor and lane boundary cues are limited. This lane boundary guidance system uses a row of colored (red, yellow, green) LEDs mounted on the dash of a MnDOT snowplow to guide the driver. The first prototype was tested on MN-25 between Belle Plaine and Green Isle. The lane boundary guidance received positive feedback from operators and was recommended for further development. Researchers will deploy the lane boundary guidance system on three plow trucks (the one in Shakopee, one additional plow in district 7, and another plow in Dakota County) with an enhancement of the LED display to deal with issues identified previously and will incorporate a front-facing hazard warning system on all three plows. The research team will evaluate the placement of the LED display on the dashboard and investigate the luminance and color perception of the colored LEDs in environments under different ambient light conditions. Researchers will develop a simple control that operators can use to adjust the perceived brightness of the red, yellow, and green LEDs for comfortable operation under different environmental lighting levels. The research team will also examine redundant feedback cues to alert drivers to hazards in the roadway. The objective is to improve plow safety and efficiency by allowing operators to maintain a desired path on the roadway under poor visibility conditions.

Project details:

  • Project number: 2020004
  • Start date: 06/2019
  • Project status: Active
  • Research area: Transportation Safety and Traffic Flow
  • Topics: Snow and ice control