Smart Snowplow

November 27, 2008

Smart Snowplow
~James Dunn

Get snow truck blades to dam the end of the plow for the short distances across driveways. Perhaps a hydraulic actuated plate that works off a camera. A green reflector sticking up indicates the beginning of a driveway, a red reflector sticking up indicates the other side of the driveway.

This way the amount of work that the residents and businesses of a city has to expend is much reduced. Even if it doesn’t deflect all of the snow from the end of driveways, some is much better than none.

My idea is to attach a small deflector that temporarily restricts the “flow” of snow off the end of a blade and then lays back after passing a driveway.

As for wear, there shouldn’t be any more wear than there would be for any blade since it becomes part of the blade. And if that part does wear, it is much smaller than the entire blade and could be replaced at a lower cost.

At first I thought about GPS. But then, snow storms could easily block the signals. For cities where the snow doesn’t get over a couple of feet deep, the reflector idea would probably work.

But in areas where they can get four feet of snow at a time, you are right, I wonder if a city would consider allowing a peg to be driven into the road with a RFID in it. That way the snow plows can run over it, the sensor transmits a signal signifying the beginning of a driveway a certain distance away. That way a truck running on a highway at 65 mph will time the deflection differently than a truck running 15 mph on an urban side street.

The RFID could also transmit the address at that driveway for emergency vehicles to use.

Regarding how big would the deflector need to be. That is a difficult question because snow is sticky and packs, while slush flows freely. A 12″ deflector on the end of a relatively large plow, let’s say 36″ in height, would probably stop the flow of snow to the point of stopping the truck. Being the equivalent of making the blade flat and packing the snow in front. Guessing, from personal experience working with farm tractor and blade to clear snow in Michigan.

While varying degrees of slush would only dam up slightly and flow around the end. The percentage of slush to snow would largely influence how much flow or packing was involved.

A good option would be to make the deflector changeable from the operator by changing the angle to loft slush or to dam the snow and slush until past an intersection or driveway.

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