Using artificial intelligence, the student team nicknamed “AI on Ice” is developing an autonomous or self-driving Zamboni machine.
More precisely, they are taking the two-Zamboni machine convoy — traditionally driven by two people — and making the second one autonomous, though tethered electronically to the lead Zamboni, mimicking its speed and direction. A safety driver would be aboard the autonomous Zamboni.
The invention has already gotten some ice time at the Penguins training facility, the UPMC Lemieux Sports Complex in Cranberry. It will need further refinement before appearing for a demonstration at a future Penguins home game.
If it performs as planned, fans long mesmerized by the Zamboni and its ability to systematically scrape up and resurface ice will have another reason to marvel as the autonomous machine in the rear “learns” from the human driving up front.