MIT Engineer Builds an Autonomous Snowblower

Most of the stories we feature here on the Hackster.io blog are for a niche audience. You and I are geeks who can thoroughly appreciate a…

Cameron Coward
2 years agoRobotics

Most of the stories we feature here on the Hackster.io blog are for a niche audience. You and I are geeks who can thoroughly appreciate a detailed reproduction of Robby the Robot, but a normal person doesn’t care. What that average Joe does care about is technology that can make their life easier. One great example of that is Dane Kouttron’s autonomous electric snowblower, which was even covered by the local news in Boston.

The motivation for Kouttron’s build is pretty obvious: nobody likes having to go outside to deal with snow. Sure, a powered snowblower makes things easier, but it’s still cold, miserable work. Kouttron is an engineer from MIT, and even appeared on the Discovery Channel’s BattleBots TV show. He took advantage of those skills to build Chomper, his autonomous electric snowblower, over the course of about a year and is demonstrating it this winter.

The project started when Kouttron was gifted with a non-functional Ariens 916003 electric snowblower. The batteries were bad, but it was in good shape mechanically. So, Kouttron decided that it would be the perfect platform for a robotic snowblower. He revived it by swapping in motors upcycled from a wheelchair and batteries meant for a prototype cell tower backup, which were easier to work with than the somewhat strange setup that the snowblower came with.

For motor control, Kouttron used a RageBridge V2 that was originally controlling his BattleBot. That was housed within a 3D-printed enclosure. Finally, he built a FPV (First-Person View) receiver he could use to operate the snowblower remotely. It also has autonomous driving capabilities, so Kouttron can program a series of GPS coordinate way points for it to follow. Now, he can take care of the snow without having to leave the warmth of his home.

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