Meet ‘OTTO,’ the first autonomous snowplow in North America

Northstar Robotics
Mar 16, 2019 · 2 min read staff with a report from CTV’s Manitoba Bureau Chief Jill Macyshon

A first-of-its-kind snowplow has been unveiled in Winnipeg, and no driver is required.

Winnipeg Richardson International Airport showed off its autonomous snowplow, nicknamed “OTTO” on Thursday. The new snowplow is expected to make airport runway snow clearing safer and more efficient.

“We use GPS to guide the vehicle up and down the paths we want to maintain and we use sensors like LIDAR and radar to sense around it,” Shawn Schaerer of Northstar Robotics said.”If there’s something in front of it, it stops.”

The plow can go from driver operated to driverless with the flick of a switch. Winnipeg Airports Authority says there are times where there’s zero visibility and driving snowplows in those conditions can be very difficult.

This autonomous technology is already used in vacuum cleaners and has been tested in cars. But OTTO was developed in Manitoba thanks to a partnership between Northstar Robotics Inc. and Airport Technologies Inc.

Over the next few years, OTTO will be used to clear the entire airport. The airport authority says there are no plans to reduce jobs by expanding the fleet of robotic snowplows because even driverless OTTO requires a remote control operator.

Northstar Robotics is hoping that Winnipeg Richardson International Airport is just the beginning for this new technology.

“We want to be in every airport in the world that has snow.”

Originally published at on March 16, 2019.

Medium is an open platform where 170 million readers come to find insightful and dynamic thinking. Here, expert and undiscovered voices alike dive into the heart of any topic and bring new ideas to the surface. Learn more

Follow the writers, publications, and topics that matter to you, and you’ll see them on your homepage and in your inbox. Explore

If you have a story to tell, knowledge to share, or a perspective to offer — welcome home. It’s easy and free to post your thinking on any topic. Write on Medium

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store