NEWS
03/17/2019 17:59 EDT | Updated 03/19/2019 09:13 EDT

Winnipeg Airport Unveils Self-Driving Snowplow Named Otto

It's a snow Roomba.

Otto, the airport's self-driving snowplow.
Winnipeg Airport Authority
Otto, the airport's self-driving snowplow.

Winnipeg's airport is now the home of North America's first ever autonomous snowplow.

Richardson International Airport collaborated with Manitoba companies Northstar Robotics and Airport Technologies to create the plow, which was unveiled Thursday.

Otto clears snow by following GPS routes and moving its blades according to what has been pre-programmed into it via iPad. The plow can operate on its own in less complex parts of Richardson airport, according to a news release, and the airport is hoping that with some more development, Otto will be able to plow the rest of the airport autonomously as well.

"Launching North America's first autonomous snowplow is a great achievement for Winnipeg Richardson International Airport," Barry Rempel, president of Winnipeg Airports Authority, said. "Our success is a direct result of bringing together partners who are committed to lead transportation innovation and growth."

The plow has a wireless emergency stop system and uses 3D and radar technology to detect obstacles around it.

Winnipeg Airport Authority
Otto, the airport's self-driving snowplow.

The plow can operate with and without a driver. The machine's autonomous operation will make things safe because it can work in situations where there is zero visibility, according to CTV News. Otto is not expected to cause any job losses because it still needs a remote control operator.

Winnipeg is the perfect place to debut the technology, as the city, often jokingly called "Winterpeg" because of its severe winters. Winnipeggers saw nearly 40 cm of snow in February, according to the Weather Network.

Now it has snow Roombas to help it deal with the mountains of snow.

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