DeneigUS: serving Quebecers!
FÉRIQUE Fund Management is proud to partner with DeneigUS, a multidisciplinary team of eight students from the Faculty of Engineering’s 63rd class, as they carry out this ambitious project to complete their bachelor’s degree in robotics, electrical and mechanical engineering. FÉRIQUE’s financial contribution helps them purchase materials, equipment and promotional items.
A long-term effort
Lasting two years and spread over three sessions and two internships, the DeneigUS project aims to demonstrate the concept of an autonomous 100%-electric snowblower for residential use in Quebec. “We’re a group of eight people majoring in engineering and we intend to demonstrate a proof of concept for an autonomous snowblower suited to Quebec’s winter conditions, the equivalent of the lawnmowers already on the market,” explained Marc-Antoine C. Lafrenière, a founding member of the DeneigUS team and the project’s ideator. The members’ ultimate goal is to present a functional product at the 2021 edition of Expo MégaGéniale, Canada’s largest exhibition of engineering projects.
Inspired by everyday life
Mr. Lafrenière came up with the idea for the project as a result of a fortunate coincidence. “I got the idea during a class. We were studying autonomous algorithms. My snowblower had just broken down,” he recalled. “It was serendipity. I said to myself: I've never seen one, but it would be nice to design an autonomous electric snowblower for residential use so I wouldn’t have to spend two hours clearing snow with the blower!” About that time, the pandemic arrived, setting his initiative back somewhat. “COVID-19 complicated a lot of things. For example, having meetings on Teams is a little weird, because there’s less chemistry,” Mr. Lafrenière said. “Also, we fell behind because we underestimated the time and operations needed for mechanical development.”
The objective for the time being is to keep the project as an academic resource, even though that wasn’t the original plan. Still, the DeneigUS team is aware that its creation has tremendous commercial potential. “We can see there’s interest. It would be a big thing to market it because there’s currently no competition in the residential market,” Mr. Lafrenière said. So, when will there be an autonomous electric snowblower for residential use in Quebec? Time will tell.