Remote Controlled Electric Snowblower Sports FPV For Safety

As summer scorches the northern hemisphere, here’s something to cool your thoughts: winter is only four months away. And with it will come the general misery and the proclamations that “It’ll never be warm again,” not to mention the white stuff and the shoveling. Or perhaps not, if you’re lucky enough to have a semi-autonomous electric snowblower in the garage.

The device [Dane Kouttron] describes is a strange beast indeed, and one that came to him under somewhat mysterious circumstances. It appears to be a standard Ariens two-stage blower, the kind normally driven by a fairly beefy internal combustion engine so as to have enough power to run the auger, the impeller, and the drive wheels. But a previous owner had removed the gas engine and attached a 4-kW brushless motor to run the auger and impeller. Realizing the potential of this machine and with a winter storm heading his way, [Dane] used the old engine mount to hold giant LiFePO₄ batteries from a cell tower backup battery, slapped a couple of electric wheelchair motors onto the drive wheels, mounted a motor to swivel the exhaust chute, and added control electronics from a retired battlebot. Setting such a machine loose in the wild would be bad, so an FPV system was added just in time for storm cleanup. Upgrades for version 2 include better weight distribution for improved stability and traction, and of course googly eyes. Check out the video below to see it flinging snow and moving around faster than any snowblower we’ve ever seen.

We’ll never get lucky enough to have such wonders gifted on us as [Dane] did, but we applaud him for picking up the torch where someone else obviously left off. And who knows; perhaps the previous maker took inspiration from this remote-controlled snowblower build?

27 thoughts on “Remote Controlled Electric Snowblower Sports FPV For Safety

      1. And just how many people replace shear bolts with regular bolts after the 3rd replacement?
        Although with Amazon/Ebay, it is easier to actually find/buy replacement shear pins these days.

      2. I sheared the pins on mine with frozen dog poop once. Poop was frozen to the ground, thought it would be better to fling it into the woods before breakup, but didn’t work out that way.

  1. Add a compass/magnetometer to the mix and you could do a course-correction to the speed command to the wheels to correct for drifting because of the slippery surfaces.

    Are there plans for fully autonomous operation?

    1. I feel like the amount of steel in the structure would make that difficult; a moving-baseline DGPS might work better, and a gyro IMU for short-term jiggles would probably help even more. Sensor fusion is an exercise left to the reader… ;)

  2. Steering the discharge chute is always such a pain, especially if you’re trying to pile the snow in a specific area. Doubly so if you factor in wind.

    I wonder if the Ardupilot codebase could help. It already has support for antenna gimbals and stuff, and keeping part of the craft pointed in specific orientations. Could you define a polygon and say “always point the chute somewhere in here”?

    That’s just one step behind fully autonomous “fly a survey” mode that would have it do back-and-forth passes over the driveway of interest… ;)

      1. Just slap a webcam under the eaves of your garage with openCV looking for bare spots and pedestrians. Doubles as a security camera looking for package thieves. Maybe a nice heated housing to keep it from frosting over.

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