Norwegian state-owned airport operator Avinor has unveiled plans to trial two autonomous snowploughs at Oslo Airport.
The self-driving snow clearing trucks will be used to keep snow away from airport areas. The project is part of Avinor’s plans to automate winter maintenance at airports across Norway.
Avinor Safety, Environment and Strategy executive vice-president Margrethe Snekkerbakken said: “Innovation is important to Avinor. In the future, many tasks in aviation will be resolved in other ways than today.
“Avinor wants to test autonomy and does, of course, see a potential for rationalisation in the future through new solutions for winter operations and in other areas. Avinor is at the forefront of testing this technology, but it is essential that safety is ensured in all such testing.”
The trial will be carried out during the normal winter season, starting at the turn of the year and lasting until April next year.
Vehicles will be closely monitored during operations and a driver will be onboard the truck to take control of the vehicle if the situation requires it.
The goal is to complete as many operations as possible for the autonomous vehicles so that the system can learn new things and develop further.
Besides ploughing convoys, the autonomous vehicles will be tested as independent snowploughs so that Avinor may transfer them to other airports without ploughing convoys.
Oslo Airport Airside Operations director Henning Bråtebæk said: “Last winter we saw more than three metres of snow and prepared the runway systems a total of 814 times, so conditions should be well suited for testing here at Oslo Airport.
“We’re looking forward to testing and being a part of developing this new and modern technology for clearing snow. Technology is currently developing in leaps and bounds, and projects like this will allow Avinor to remain among the best in the world in terms of winter operations.”