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Wis. Students Develop Robot Snowblower

By Keith Uhlig

Snow shoots out of a remotely-controlled snowblower in the parking lot of Wausau West High School in Wausau, Wis. on Thursday, Feb. 6, 2014. The device is being developed by a team of 13 students at the high school through a grant from MIT and the Lemmelson Foundation. The team hopes to turn it into an autonomous device. (AP Photo/The Wausau Daily Herald, Keith Uhlig)


WAUSAU, Wis. (AP) – Students developing the robot snowblower at Wausau West High School laugh politely at a joke about the machine becoming self-aware and attempting to take over the world.

“Actually, though,” said Ethan Klein, 17, a senior, “we do want to address safety.” The idea would be to install some kind of sensors around the machine that would shut it down if it got near, say, a car, dog or young child.

Klein is one of 13 Wausau West students working on the robot snowblower project. They don’t call it a robot snowblower, at least not when a reporter is nearby. They call it an autonomous snow removal device. It’s not really autonomous right now, because it’s run by someone via radio control. One of the next steps is to install computer equipment that will allow the machine to run on its own using global positioning satellite signals.

The Wausau West team is one of 15 high school teams around the country developing projects of their own under a program called Lemelson-MIT InvenTeams. Each of the teams was awarded a $10,000 grant to help make each team’s future machine dreams a reality, Daily Herald Media reported.

The program was designed to be more than a class project. The machines that are created are meant to be practical and marketable, and capable of being produced in the real world. Imagine sitting at a window, warm, dry and drinking a cup of coffee, while watching a snowblower hard at work, especially given this winter.

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Posted by FanningCommunications on Mar 1st, 2014 and filed under Techline. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response by filling following comment form or trackback to this entry from your site

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