Autonomous snow truck and sweeper tested at Stuttgart Airport

Aebi Schmidt Group and Stuttgart Airport (STR) presented on the apron what the future of winter maintenance could look like with autonomously operating vehicles and equipment.

The system tested at Stuttgart Airport is the first to function fully integrated. In this, truck and sweeper are controlled via the same platform.

The test drives at STR were part of the "SmartFleet - autonomous commercial vehicles for safe and efficient airport operations" project, launched in 2019 and funded by the German Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Climate Action.

The jet sweepers equipped with the so-called AirfieldPilot from Aebi Schmidt Group can clear snowy and icy runways, taxiways and the apron without a driver.

At Stuttgart Airport, they can already autonomously cover precisely preassigned routes. During the test runs, the teams from Aebi Schmidt and the Stuttgart Airport tested various functions, which included driving along a route, interacting with other conventional winter maintenance equipment when driving in convoy and using the snow plough, brush roller and blower according to predefined clearing concepts.

The new technology is designed to help ensure that the airport is always cleared accurately and quickly, even when visibility is poor due to darkness or fog. The system uses high-precision satellite-based services for route recording as well as autonomous processing.

A Stuttgart Airport spokesman said: "Autonomous vehicles must integrate into airport processes and work with centimetre precision. For safety reasons, a person is still sitting in the vehicle during the tests. When the prototypes will be in use on a regular basis in snow and ice at Stuttgart Airport still depends mostly on legal factors."


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