SnowBYTE – the robotic snow blower

Team from Istanbul Technical University has created a remote control, snow clearing robot.

Professor Emin Faruk Kececi and a team of students trudged through the winter of 2014, shoveling snow from each storm and vowing to find a better way to clear roads and paths. Their solution is SnowBYTE, the robotic snow blower.

SnowBYTE is running a Kickstarter campaign for $36,000 to build the first run of robots. Several prototypes have been built up to this point and a few modifications will be made between this Kickstarter iteration of robot and the final product.

The goal of the project is to make the chore of clearing snow easier, by adding a camera to the snowbot and allowing the user to control the system from a warm interior environment. Design goals were that the robot be compact and strong.

A laser cut aluminum frame houses the blades and the motors that control the SnowBYTE. A gas engine controls the starter motor and four servo motors that drive the tires. Speed estimates for the device are 33.3 meters per minute with a 36 centimeter wide blade. This works out to 11.88 square meters per minute that can be cleaned by the bot.

The current prototype is powered by four 12 Volt dc batteries. An Arduino board and XBee shield are used to control the robot during operation. A tank tread design was used on the prototype in the funding video but we’re told that the configuration may change for better traction and pushing power.

SnowBYTE is a great project and seeing students inspired to build a revolutionary product is very inspiring. The Kickstarter video is not very polished but the campaign page gives a blunt accounting of the strengths and weaknesses of the project. Units are expected to ship by October 10, 2014.