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Mn/DOT Sail-II
    Mn/DOT Sail-II Project
  The Minnesota Department of Transportation (Mn/DOT) seeks to­ further assess the application of Automatic Vehicle Location (AVL) systems for gaining value in overall snow fighting techniques, decision support systems, and area-wide highway maintenance issues for winter and summer operations.
      ThomTech Design, Inc. is the prime contractor to design, develop, integrate, implement, and install a solution system for the SAIL-II project. One of the main premises of SAIL-II is to interface the data collection subsystems of SAIL-II with other Mn/DOT legacy systems such as resource consumption allocation (RCA), work maintenance system (WMS), and other systems related to maintenance work orders.

Figure 2: SAIL-II Goals/Benefits

Goals/Benefits. The SAIL-II goals/benefits are listed below and illustrated in Figure 2 above.

• Build upon the efforts of SAIL-I
• Employ the recommendations from the operators
• Utilize a more appropriate Mobile Data Terminal
• Expand the number of vehicles
• Examine ergonomic considerations
• Address the integration of information with other Mn/DOT maintenance management programs and Mn/DOT’s wide area network, see Figure 3
• Continue to improve AVL system message formats, reporting periods, accuracy, data manipulation, operator and dispatcher training, and personnel “buy-in.”

An in-vehicle unit will be installed in each of the trucks. Integrate all new electronics and the communications hardware into one compact main unit.

Twenty-five percent of the units will be able to be moved (installed and uninstalled) with ease from one vehicle to another for summer operations.

The unit will include a differential capable Global Position System (GPS) receiver, with a keypad and display. The unit will also interface with the following in-vehicle sensors:

Figure 3: Mn/DOT Logo & Serial #


 Plow up/down sensors, installed in hydraulics valve box, thresholds set at 500 lbs/in and 165 lbs/inch.
 Pulse Counter that will measure the material distribution directed by the spreader controller, connect to the ground speed sensor from the auger. Mn/DOT and Dicky-john personnel will assist on this interface.
 Pavement and air temperature sensors

 Mobile Data Terminal

The front face of the unit will include a backlit liquid crystal display (LCD), with 8-millimeter characters, and be readable in full sunlight. The use of display lines will be programmable and be used for two-way messaging. See Figure 4.

The unit will include a button keypad below the display with the following capabilities:

 Toggle between the send and receive modes
 Scroll the pre-defined (canned) message list or inbound messages; see sample canned messages below
 Send messages
 Acknowledge the receipt of messages
 Assign a vehicle identification number
 An emergency (panic) button to allow drivers in distress (illness, accidents, etc.) a means of attracting the supervisor’s attention and initiating prompt actions

Figure 4: Figure 4: In-vehicle Installation

Sample Canned Messages – these are examples, Mn/DOT continues to refine the list.

Stranded motorist Back-in Service
Mailbox hit Out of Service
Flat tire Refueling
Phone call Loading Material
Send mechanic Other

Upon vehicle ignition, the unit will automatically log on to the system. No operator interface will be necessary to begin transmitting position and sensor data. The unit will automatically perform a power-on self-test and diagnostics upon the application of power. The driver’s employee ID number (eight numeric digits) will need to be entered by the vehicle operator in order for the MDC to be “signed on.”

Should a vehicle travel out of communications coverage, the unit will provide the capability to buffer real-time data in its memory (limited to five minutes or less) and transmit this data to dispatch once the vehicle is back in communications coverage. The Virginia area vehicle will collect their data on a PCMCIA card and download the data via a PC Card Reader at the end of the day/storm/week. The driver is alerted when the card is 75% full and 25% is remaining.

While the majority of the trucks will be equipped with the system described above, two or three supervisor’s units will be installed on the supervisors’ vehicles in Mn/DOT’s Virginia, Mankato, and Metro Districts. The operator will be able to send either canned or free-formed text messages from the larger unit to the dispatcher.

 Two-Way Messaging
The unit will have the capability through the keypad and display for the vehicle operators to send and receive messages from the command center.

o Send messages to the command center – to send a message, the operator will scroll through a canned message list included in the unit, and then press the send button.
o Receiving messages from the command center – when the unit receives a message, the red button flashes and the message comes to the front of the screen. The operator then pushes a button to acknowledge receipt of message.

ThomTech Design, Inc. SnowOwl™ System Features that are highlighted in the SAIL-II Project:
• Data Collection/Dissemination
• Performance Specifications
• Communications, Network & Infrastructure Integration
• Communication Subsystem
• Network/Software/Client/Server Applications
• Communications and Web Servers
• Client Computers
• Differential Correction
• Mapping Software
• Two-Way Messaging
• Emergency Alarm
• Reporting
• Mapping & Map Printing
• Historical data & Documentation
• Plow and Spreader Trace
• Pavement/Air Temperature Display
• Trace Aging and Width
• Complaint Module
• Find Vehicle

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