RoadView Advanced Snowplow

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RoadView Snowplow Video

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A Harsh Place

I-80 over Donner Pass is a harsh place in winter, with up to 35 feet of wet snow that comes in intense storms that can totally obscure vision.

In places, the highway borders thousand-foot drop-offs and traverses ice-covered bridges.

Yet, Caltrans must keep the Pass open, for I-80 is vital to commerce in the Northern California region.

This page presents a joint effort by Caltrans and AHMCT to develop and deploy a safer and more efficient way to keep highways open in winter. The Advanced Snowplow or “RoadView” system was deployed in one Caltrans snowplow in December 1998, an additional plow in December 2000, and a third plow in December 2001. The system was actively tested by the Kingvale maintenance yard snowfighters through the 2004-2005 snow season, as well as by Caltrans snowfighters on SR 299 near Burney, and was tested and demonstrated on US 180 north of Flagstaff by the Arizona DOT snowfighters. Between the three vehicles, the system was actively field-tested for a total of 16 vehicle-seasons.

The RoadView System

The Advanced Snowplow or “RoadView” system uses numerous technologies to improve the safety and efficiency of snow removal:

  • A sensing system that detects the current vehicle location.
  • A prediction system that predicts the future vehicle location.
  • A collision warning system that detects obstacles and potential hazards.
  • A display that integrates all information.

With an intuitive format that is easy to scan, the display provides:

  • collision warning
  • current lane position
  • predicted future lane position
  • upcoming roadway curvature
  • landmark information

RoadView provides a complete, end-to-end integrated approach to snowplow safety issues. The first-generation prototype was installed on a standard Caltrans 10-wheel plow, and deployed into the field for testing in six months. RoadView has been field-tested by both California and Arizona, and was actively field-tested for a total of 16 vehicle-seasons through the 2004-2005 snow season.

The RoadView prototype is a ruggedized, low-cost, field-proven vehicle which has generated interest in a number of States, as well as several municipalities and counties. AHMCT is currently developing next-generation technologies that extend the capabilities of the RoadView system to other winter maintenance operations including mountain pass road opening and rotary snow blower operations. AHMCT’s current research is applying infrastructure-free sensing approaches, including GPS, to greatly improve the potential for deployment of the systems into Caltrans operations.

The RoadView Team

The original Advanced Snowplow / RoadView team was composed of recognized leaders in their fields.

Caltrans The project was sponsored by the California State Department of Transportation (Caltrans) Division of Research and Innovation, a leader in the area of Intelligent Transportation Systems (ITS) and Intelligent Vehicle (IV) technologies.
ATRC The Arizona State Department of Transportation (ADOT) Arizona Transportation Research Center (ATRC) provided support and additional testing and facilities, and is recognized as one of the most innovative DOTs in ITS and IV.
AHMCT and PATH The core technology developers, the Advanced Highway Maintenance and Construction Technology (AHMCT) Research Center and the California Partners for Advanced Transit and Highways (PATH), are recognized worldwide as the leading researchers in the areas of Advanced Construction and Maintenance Systems (ACMS) and Advanced Vehicle Control and Safety Systems (AVCSS), respectively.
WTI The Western Transportation Institute (WTI) is a University Transportation “super-center” and a recognized leader in implementing ITS technology in rural highway systems.AHMCT is continuing research and development of RoadView-related technology, as well as addressing winter maintenance operations from a high-level system-wide perspective.

AHMCT is continuing research and development of RoadView-related technology, as well as addressing winter maintenance operations from a high-level system-wide perspective.

  • AHMCT has developed improvements in sensor technology, algorithms, displays, and system design.
  • AHMCT and PATH also developed a fully automated rotary snowplow known as the Advanced Rotary Plow (ARP), which included automated steering, brake, and throttle, as well as a Collision Warning System. This system was demonstrated on Interstate 80 in the Spring of 2005.
  • AHMCT also developed technology to automate the installation of cooperative reference infrastructure, such as the magnetic markers used to guide RoadView and the ARP.

These projects are often multi-state efforts that include participation by the US DOT Federal Highway Administration and the Intelligent Vehicle Initiative Specialty Vehicle Partnership. The overall goal of AHMCT’s winter maintenance family projects is to provide a fully integrated system to significantly improve the safety and efficiency of winter maintenance, one of the most demanding and safety-critical areas of highway maintenance.

For further information, please contact Ty A. Lasky.