Nishio leads on remote operation trials
By Murray Pollok03 March 2021
Pilot studies on the remote operation of construction equipment using Wi-Fi and 5G technology are being carried out in Japan by rental company Nishio Rent All, contractor Kato Construction Co Ltd and Hitachi Construction Machinery.
The two studies – one carried out in January on a road bypass project near Kamukura and the second now underway on a flood channel in Hiroshima – will involve the remote operation of a Hitachi Zaxis 200 excavator, a Komatsu 61PX dozer and a Sakai SV513D vibratory roller.
The project, which is being undertaken for the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism, will assess the suitability of Wi-Fi and 5G communication systems as well as cameras and augmented reality technology.
The aim is to allow one person to operate multiple machines from a distance – 3km in the case of these studies – and ultimately to help Japan cope with a decreasing construction workforce. A declining birthrate and aging population are expected to cut the workforce by 44% between 2005 and 2030.
The technology will also be suitable for use when working in dangerous areas or following a natural disaster.
On each of the three machines, front-image and in-cab cameras as well as an omni-directional camera are being used.
Augmented reality technology will display the excavator or bulldozer bucket as a grid on top of the camera image, and depth limits or 3D design data can be shown on screen.