Norwegian airport operator Avinor has signed an eight-year framework agreement with snowplough manufacturer Øveraasen to purchase fleets of autonomous runway sweepers.
The estimated contract value over the duration of the agreement is up to €40m (£34.5m) and includes anticipated options as well as ongoing maintenance.
The first tranche of 12 autonomous runway sweepers will be delivered to Avinor from Øveraasen this winter, with several of the vehicles deployed at Oslo Airport, where a fleet of sweepers has been tested since winter 2018/19.
In addition to the supply of these autonomous vehicles, the contract also encompasses the delivery of runway sweepers to all 44 Avinor-operated state-owned airports.
“With this procurement, Avinor is taking a step into winter operations of the future in which autonomous runway sweepers are part of the solution,” said Avinor CEO Abraham Foss.
“We are among the first in the world to put a concept like this into operation, and it will enable us to fulfil our goal of being a leader in terms of winter operations over the coming years.”
With approximately 150 runway sweepers at its disposal, Avinor’s long-term intention is that the platform for autonomous operations can enable automation of other tasks and services in airport areas, such as grass cutting, line painting on the apron and sweeping.
In addition to cost efficiency, the driverless technology has been designed to provide a higher capacity and greater clearing width, which reportedly makes it possible to reduce the number of vehicles required and thereby achieve major environmental benefits.
Furthermore, greater precision in snow removal operations and less wear and tear on equipment will also play a role in this respect.
The autonomous technology and IT systems used in the machinery has been developed by subcontractor Yeti Move, which is co-owned by Øveraasen, Husqvarna and Semcon.
Specifically, Yeti Move has delivered the control system that runs the autonomous operations. It features condition monitoring, which provides a complete overview of the equipment’s condition and possible service needs.
Meanwhile, Semcon has acted as a development and competence partner, contributing to the development of the software platform that makes autonomous operation possible.
Peter Due, CEO of Yeti Move, said: ”The contract with Avinor is an important step in the development of Yeti Move and gives the company a world-leading position in autonomous snow removal at airports.
“It’s particularly fun given that, back in the day, Yeti was founded as the outcome of Avinor’s vision for autonomous solutions for snow ploughing.”