Snowplow Driver Assist System Implementation Plan

Principal Investigator(s):

Brian Davis, Associate Dir., Mobility Tech. Lab, Mechanical Engineering


  • Max Donath, Professor, Mechanical Engineering
  • Nichole Morris, Director, Human Factors Safety Lab, 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 roadways. To support workers conducting these tasks, the University of Minnesota has developed a snow-plow driver assist system that provides real-time visual and audio feedback to snowplow operators to ensure safe and efficient snow removal operations. The system uses high-accuracy digital maps and a real-time kinematic (RTK) Global Navigation Satellite System (GNSS) receiver to provide lane guidance and a radar to detect forward obstacles. This system has been deployed in all eight MnDOT districts as well as Dakota County. Operator feedback has been positive showing that the system is successful in providing useful support to drivers.

This project focuses on the transition of this work from a research focus to a production focus seeking to prepare for a sustainable and scalable long-term, wide-scale deployment. To accomplish this goal, work will be performed to implement system improvements that support such a transi-tion. Key improvements include enhancements to the forward obstacle detection system, the teleme-try and data collection system, and developing new methods for mapping roadways. Additionally, potential future commercial partners will be engaged to assess their interest and ability to acquire, resell, and support the system. Lastly, this project provides for the support and maintenance of the nine currently deployed systems across Minnesota to ensure they remain functional.

Project details: