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Lidar Snowcats are Building Better Ski Slopes

picture of Lidar Snowcats

There’s a good chance that more than one wealthy, German Mercedes S-Class owner will arrive at the ski slopes this year having cruised down the autobahn to get there with his car’s DrivePilot autonomous function engaged. But what he probably wouldn’t know is that technology enabling his S-Class to drive by itself is also used to perfect the shape of the ski slopes using lidar snowcats.

From an article in Carscoops by Chris Chilton.

I knew farm machinery was highly automated and packed with computer power, but I presumed those snowcat machines you see on ski slopes just relied on the driver’s eye and experience to work out where to push the snow and keep ski slopes covered with enough of the white stuff. And I was wrong.

Some of the latest snowcats from Germany’s PistenBully feature something called Snowsat Lidar to measure the depth of the snow and help the driver work out where to move it from and to. In the past, drivers could only rely on snow depth measurements taken under the vehicle, meaning they had no idea what the snow conditions ahead were like until they were literally on top of them. But the Lidar tech allows them to see up to 165 ft (50 m) in front of the plough, and even to the sides of the intended direction of travel.

A sensor on the roof capturing 200,000 data points per second allows the computer to see an area measuring 28,000 sq ft (2,600 sq m), showing high spots as green, and thin patches as red, on one of the in-cab monitors. The company behind the Snowsat technology says it makes “grooming” ski slopes less time consuming, which also reduces costs and carbon emissions. It’s also safer for operatives because it shows cliffs and rocks, and allows work to continue even when human visibility is hampered by extreme weather.

For the complete article CLICK HERE.

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