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DGPS-Based Gang Plowing

Status:  Complete
Report Date:  04/07/2005

Summary:

Gang plowing is one method used by the Minnesota Department of Transportation (Mn/DOT) to increase the productivity of snowplow operations. However, these gains in productivity often come at the expense of increased driver stress. These higher stress levels are the result of the low visibility caused by localized snow clouds created by the lead snowplow, and by anxious drivers trying to pass between the moving plows. To improve the gang plowing process, a DGPS-based gang plowing system has been developed. This system uses advanced technology to allow a trailing snowplow to automatically follow a lead snowplow at an operator-specified lateral and longitudinal offset. The system is designed to improve both safety and productivity. This report covers three areas. First, to improve driver visibility, an implementation of the virtual mirror to the left side of the trailing plow is described. Second, the lateral and longitudinal performance of a two-vehicle gang on Minnesota Trunk Highway 101 is described. Third, a system architecture for gangs of more than two vehicles is proposed, and its potential performance is documented through simulation. Finally, recommendations for further research and other potential applications are provided.

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