, Professor, Mechanical Engineering
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. Driver assist systems were considered for three applications: gang plowing, backup assist, and lane boundary guidance. This study evaluated the system performance and position accuracy of commercially available, dedicated short-range communication (DSRC) Onboard Units (OBU) for gang plowing. The study results indicated that the positioning accuracy of the OBUs was inadequate for providing the plow operator with sufficient information to maintain spacing between two vehicles. The backup assist system and lane boundary guidance system were developed and successfully deployed to support snowplow operations. Human factors studies were also conducted using a driving simulator to better understand the needs prior to designing an appropriate human-machine interface (HMI) for these plow operations. The radar-based backup assist system was installed on a snowplow that operates on Highway 169. The backup assist system provides an audio warning to the operator to look at the display from a rear-view camera when an object is detected. The global navigation satellite system (GNSS)-based lane boundary guidance system was developed to assist plow operations when visibility is poor and lane boundary cues are limited. The lane boundary guidance system was installed on a second snowplow operating on MN-25 running between Belle Plaine and Green Isle. The lane boundary guidance received the most positive feedback from operators and is recommended for further development.