Valtra's autonomous snow plow concept

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Valtra find use in snow-clearing activities

Valtra’s autonomous snowplow will be used at Finland’s northernmost airport
Valtra’s autonomous snowplow will be used at Finland’s northernmost airport
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Tractor manufacturer Valtra has helped to develop an autonomous snowplow concept to be used at Finland’s northernmost airport in a move the company says opens the door to new ways of thinking.

The Finnish winter can see some parts of the country permanently covered in snow for up to 200 days per year, making the clearing of runways an important challenge for Finavia, Finland’s national airport management body.

Finavia machine equipment specialist Tero Santamanner says tractors are an "interesting alternative" in cases where working widths of 4.5 metres were sufficient for snow clearing.

The Valtra Autonomous snow plow
Tractors are considerably less expensive in total cost of ownership than trucks

"Tractors are considerably less expensive in total cost of ownership than trucks and much more versatile as they can be used for other tasks such as snow-blowing or mowing during the summertime," he says.

To develop the concept at Ivalo airport in Finnish Lapland, Finavia teamed with Valtra, a subsidiary of AGCO Corporation, Finnish tyre company Nokian Tyres, airport sweeper blower manufacturer Vammas (Fortbrand) and sustainable energy company Neste.

Valtra adapted two of its T254 Versu tractors for the project, equipping them with Nokian Hakkapeliitta TRI tyres and each pulling a 4.5m-wide sweeper blower to autonomously clear the runway in the winter of 2018–2019.

Valtra and Nokian worked together to set the speed record for unmanned snow-ploughing in 2018 with an autonomous T254 Versu equipped with Nokian Hakkapeliitta TRI tyres.

For this project, the companies used Valtra SmartTouch features such as auto-guidance with centimetre-level precision, while Isobus implement control provided the technology needed for the controlled clearing of pre-defined routes.

"The future will bring more and more autonomous applications, and we are ready for the new demands they bring."

Both the Valtra and the Vammas sweeper blower were also fuelled with Neste MY Renewable Diesel which reduces greenhouse gas emissions approximately 90 per cent compared to fossil diesel, the company says.

Valtra senior brand business manager for Scandinavia and Western Europe Matti Tiitinen says the Runway Snowbot proof of concept enables airport runways to be cleared more safely, more sustainably and more economically.

"The future will bring more and more autonomous applications, and we are ready for the new demands they bring," he says.

The company added that while the project was not ready commercial implementation, it had paved the way for new ways of thinking among the companies.

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