As a person who is now on crutches, and will probably be using them through the entire winter, I would personally be very interested in such a device. Here are a few thoughts;
#1; I have tried an A.C. powered electric snow thrower, and found it to be woefully underpowered for dealing with the hardened compressed snow that the snow plow puts onto my side walk and driveway. Melting might still be an option, but would require a great deal of energy.
First, someone should check my work here. It has been quite a while since I had physics, and of course, it was all metric. For some reason they think the US students only should learn how to do engineering in other countries. Anyway, My book says It takes 334 Joules to melt 1 gram of ice. In standard US units, this is 3.17 BTU per Ounce. Or, with battery power in mind, 157.83 Watts for one Minute will melt one Ounce. Note that the ice will probably be below freezing, and you probably want to take it a bit above freezing, and that will take extra power. Your peltier junction will reduce power needs a bit, but I doubt it will help much.
Any battery operated device will probably not be sufficient. Propane might be a viable source for heat instead of the peltier junction. Be sure to calculate the energy you need to melt the quantity of snow you imagine you want to handle.
And even if you have enough power to melt the snow, you will still need to regularly dump the melted water somewhere. With that in mind, why bother to melt the snow at all. Just transport it while it is still frozen. So, I think the melting approach should really be abandoned.
#2; I imagine a fairly low power robot using a any method other than melting, could easily with fresh fallen snow, as long as you get to it before it gets too deep. (I.e. pick up small amounts with a front-end loader arrangement, or a snow blower.)
#3; Any robot expecting to go over ice and snow will have to be constantly navigating by something other than odometry. There is going to be WAY to much slippage for odometry to be useful.
Last edited by cadcoke4
on August 21st, 2011, 8:50 pm, edited 1 time in total.