Norwegian airport operator Avinor is taking the next step towards autonomous snow removal through a new framework agreement regarding the purchase of self-driving runway sweepers.
Since the winter of 2018/2019, a number of self-driving runway sweepers have been tested at Oslo Airport. With Avinor’s new framework agreement with snowplough manufacturer Øveraasen, which runs for eight years, more autonomous vehicles will be put into operation during the winter of 2021/2022.
Behind the self-driving vehicles is the technology company Yeti Move, which delivers the control system that runs the autonomous operations. The majority owners of Yeti Move are Øveraasen, Husqvarna and Semcon.
Today, efficiency and automation are high on the agenda of airlines and airport operators worldwide and the benefits of autonomous snowploughs at airports are many. In addition to cost efficiency, the new technology entails a higher capacity and greater clearing width, which makes it possible to reduce the number of vehicles and thereby achieve major environmental benefits.
The system is also developed with “condition monitoring”, which provides a complete overview of the equipment’s condition and possible service needs.
Peter Due, CEO of Yeti Move, says: “The contract with Avinor is an important step in the development of Yeti Move and gives the company a world-leading position in autonomous snow removal at airports. This is a result of years of collaboration with Øveraasen as a machine supplier and Semcon as a competence partner.”
Hans Peter Havdal, responsible for Semcon in Norway, says: ”Semcon has extensive experience in developing autonomous solutions, from first idea to finished solution. We have been part of Yeti Moves’ journey from the start and are proud to have, as a development and competence partner, contributed to developing the software platform that makes autonomous operation possible.”
Avinor says it is “stepping into the future” of winter operations by committing itself fully with this agreemnt to autonomous runway sweepers.
The framework contract for a period of eight years signed with Norwegian company Øveraasen follows a rigorous procurement process, says Avinor.
The technology company Yeti Move, based in Kongsberg, is a subcontractor and will provide the autonomous solutions.
The contract encompasses the purchase of runway sweepers for use at Avinor’s airports featuring autonomous solutions. The estimated contract value over the duration of the agreement is up to €40 million. This includes anticipated options, as well as ongoing maintenance.
Several autonomous vehicles are scheduled for deployment at Oslo Airport during the winter of 2021/2022.
Abraham Foss, Avinor CEO, says: “We want to be in the driving seat when it comes to new ways of thinking and innovation.
“With this procurement, Avinor is taking a step into winter operations of the future in which autonomous runway sweepers are part of the solution. We are among the first in the world to put a concept like this into operation, and it will enable us to fulfil our goal of being a leader in terms of winter operations over the coming years.”
Environmentally friendly solutions
Avinor says it is working continuously to streamline airport operations through the utilization of new technologies, thereby meeting the airlines’ expectations in relation to efficiency and automation.
Excellent punctuality and stable operations, including during the winter season, are essential to ensuring a positive passenger experience and very important to the companies operating at airports in enabling them to do so as cost-effectively as possible.
Foss says: “An automated concept for winter operations will allow us to carry out our tasks with fewer resources. Streamlining and automation are high on our agenda.
“Ten years ago, the concept of driverless snow ploughs was nothing more than an idea on paper. This is why it is so gratifying to see that the technology is already sufficiently mature for it to be deployed in regular operations.”
In addition to the cost-saving benefits, the acquisition of these machines with higher capacity and greater clearing range will make it possible to reduce the number of snow ploughs operating, benefitting the environment. Greater precision in snow removal operations and less wear and tear on equipment will also play a role in this respect.
In addition to the supply of autonomous vehicles, the contract also encompasses the delivery of runway sweepers to all Avinor airports. Avinor has approximately 150 runway sweepers at its disposal. In the long term, the intention is that the platform for autonomous operations can enable automation of other tasks and services in the airport area. This may include grass cutting, line painting on the apron as well as sweeping.
The framework agreement includes the first tranche of 12 autonomous runway sweepers to be delivered from the Norwegian company Øveraasen AS. Subcontractor Yeti Move will be supplying the autonomous technology and IT systems that are used in the machinery.
Thor Arve Øveraasen, CEO of Øveraasen, says: “Signing a contract like this with Avinor is a big deal for our company.
“This agreement confirms our leading position as a manufacturer of advanced snow removal equipment for airports around the globe and will contribute to ensuring that employment is sustained over the coming years.”
Øveraasen was founded in 1908 and is a Norwegian company with long traditions.
Øveraasen says: “Technological development is constantly moving forward, and it will be most gratifying to deliver the autonomous vehicles to Oslo Airport. Many airports around the world are following closely what is happening at Avinor and are eager to participate in this exciting journey in future.”
Peter Due, CEO of Yeti Move, is also “most satisfied” with the recently signed contract. He says: “The agreement with Avinor confirms Yeti Move’s position in the world of autonomous solutions for airport operations. This is a recognition of the job that we have done in partnership with Øveraasen and helps to position Yeti Move as a leading global player in industrial autonomy.”
“It’s particularly fun given that back in the day, Yeti was founded as the outcome of Avinor’s vision for autonomous solutions for snow ploughing.”