Pretty slick: New snowplow technology could save state money

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KSTP reports that new "Smart Plow" technology is being tested in snowplows on the streets of the metro for the first time.

The new technology, which has been tested in other areas of the state, utilizes sensors that transmit real-time data about road conditions. The data help drivers lay down the right amount and type of chemical de-icer, KSTP reports.

MnDOT spokesperson Kurt Pape tells KSTP that cost savings through more efficient use of plows and chemicals will dwarf the $2,000 to $3,000 cost per plow to add the technology.

Minnesota is one of four states where transportation officials this winter are testing plows equipped with sensors that transmit real-time data about road conditions, the Associated Press reported. The measurements will be combined with information from satellite, radar, and weather models in hopes of improving safety and cutting costs, the AP reported.

The Enhanced Maintenance Decision Support System (EMDSS) was built by the National Center for Atmospheric Research. The Center notes that the ground-based observation stations that states now use can be up to 60 miles apart and officials are left to estimate the conditions between those stations. Now, measurements from the plows will be coded with a location and time and transmitted to an NCAR database.

The system is also being tested in Michigan, Nevada, and on New York's Long Island and could be more widely available to other states next winter, NCAR says.

What did we do before all this technology arrived? The Atlantic offers a look back.

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