SuperDroid fields remote control snow plow
By David Szondy
February 15, 2014
In the southeast United States, snow storms are as about as common as canoes on Mount Everest, which is what makes the current task of digging the region out from under the recent deposit of the white stuff so irksome. To aid the inexperienced snow shoveler, SuperDroid of Raleigh, North Carolina is selling a remote-controlled robotic snow plow that allows you to clear the drive while sitting where it’s warm with a cup of cocoa.
Retailing for US$8,000, the bespoke six-wheel drive robot isn't autonomous, but is controlled by a hand-held remote unit. Given that snow plowing is a job that requires a surprising degree of skill, this is a good thing. When clearing snow, you don’t want something that takes a random path over the area or can’t handle the variations in hardness and texture that snow can exhibit. And you certainly don’t want something weighting 393 lbs (178 kg) and sporting a 52-in (132 cm) steel blade running loose around parked cars.
The robotic snow plow is based on a welded 3/16-in (4.7 mm) aluminum chassis and measures 63.5 in (161 cm) long. Powered by two 12 V batteries, each of the six wheels equipped with tiller tires has an electric IG90 24VDC 127 RPM gear motor with chain-coupled axles for better traction. According to SuperDroid, this arrangement is strong enough to tow a pickup truck.
Meanwhile, at the business end is the plow, which is actuated by a pneumatic system that is recharged by an on-board compressor. This allows the plow to raise and lower on command, and it can be angled manually. Control of the entire vehicle is through a Spektrum DSMX DX6i transmitter with a fail-safed Spektrum R9020 9-Channel DSMX X-Plus receiver. The robot can also mount 80 W headlamps for night operations.
SuperDroid says that the only available robot has been sold, but that it is taking offers to build others for next year. The company says that these can be built to bespoke specifications and equipped with extras, such as a snow blower, cameras, additional batteries, and internet control.
The video below shows the robot snow plow in action.