Flodraulic develops the intelligent Archimedes Precision Spreader


Flodraulic has launched its new Archimedes Precision Spreader – a semi-automated snow plow and salter.

Working with the University of Guelph, the Town of Halton Hills and the City of Guelph, Flodraulic has created a salt management system to accurately measure the salt applied on roadways in real-time.

The Archimedes Precision Spreader uses a LiDAR-based sensor array to measure the salt applied on roadways. The sensor data is instantaneously fed back into the control system to dynamically control salt application rates to be as precise as possible. As well, the system can detect over-salting, under-salting, as well as blockages.

Flodraulic also developed a cloud-based command structure and web centre that can assign salt application rates to specific GPS coordinates.

This solution allows operations teams to dynamically raise and lower salt requirements at any location based on weather, risk and environmentally sensitive areas. The role of salt adjustment has always been solely the responsibility of the operators, who need to navigate dangerous roadways while simultaneously plowing snow.

“Snow and ice vehicles are large and by definition are only operated when road conditions are at their most dangerous,” said Chris Passmore, director of technologies at Flodraulic.

“The Archimedes Precision Spreader will increase the safety of drivers by almost entirely removing salt control from their operational procedure. The municipalities will now be conscious of salt usage and environmentally sensitive areas without adding a layer of complexity for their drivers.”

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To help enable the commercialization of the Archimedes Precision Spreader, Flodraulic received support through Ontario’s Autonomous Vehicle Innovation Network (AVIN), led by the Ontario Centre of Innovation (OCI).

“No matter what the weather condition, Ontario is committed to keeping roads and highways safe,” said Caroline Mulroney, Ontario minister of transportation. “Through the Autonomous Vehicle Innovation Network, our government is proud to support innovative initiatives like this project by Flodraulic that could make the important job of road maintenance crews safer and easier during the winter months.”

Applying road salt is leading to natural waterways and wetlands recording alarming rates of salinization. With the Archimedes Precision Spreader, salt can be cut by up to two thirds, in turn helping to preserve wildlife and maintain drinking water supply.

“Winter road maintenance is a major concern in Ontario and Northern climates around the world and Flodraulic’s application of connected and autonomous technologies offers significant safety, cost and environmental benefits,” said Vic Fedeli, Ontario’s minister of economic development, job creation and trade.

“The Autonomous Vehicle Innovation Network is weaving together Ontario’s strengths in information technology and advanced manufacturing to assist in the province’s economic recovery from COVID-19 and advance our leadership in the latest transportation and infrastructure technologies.”

The University of Guelph has run tests and determined some salt trucks use more salt than necessary on roadways. This is often attributed to combating blockages, erring on the side of caution or proactive applications from weather forecasts.

The closed-loop control technology in these new trucks with the Archimedes Precision Spreader will automatically respond to blockages for the operator, and will recommend an application rate that will use less salt than current trucks on the road while maintaining the same level of public safety. Flodraulic set out to create a semi-automated snowplow truck. After rigorous development, commissioning and field testing, Flodraulic’s patent-pending control system is now on trucks and proving successful.