The purpose of WROOMM, Wireless and Remote Operation of Mobile Machines, has been to develop concept solutions for remote controlled loading with wheel loaders and remote monitoring of such machines. The project has now reached its end and the project participants, including Boliden, Volvo CE, ABB, Oryx and Rise Sics Västerås, can sum up three years of research.
The researchers at Luleå University of Technology, within the fields of Industrial Electronics and Pervasive and Mobile Computing, have focused on issues relating to loading automation, communication and the challenges that the remote control operator faces.
– A concern with remote control is the wireless communication, especially to provide sufficiently good video feedback. For example, we have encountered many practical problems with getting wifi to work, says Ulf Bodin, Associate Professor of Pervasive and Mobile Computing.
Another challenge has been to solve problems that arise from the remote operator. Performing severe operations with limited feedback from the vehicle regarding shaking, noise and vision makes it hard for the operator.
– You can not accurately recreate all the feedback you can get in a real machine and even if you do, you might want it since you would recreate a bad work environment, says Ulf Bodin.
– You lose attendance when you are not in the machine. Therefore, we have had to consider a lot about which automation functions or driver support functions are needed for remote-controlled machines. To get video, motion and sound to work over a network and technology presented at a control station will not be the same as experiencing it for real.
And there are several advantages to use remote-controlled vehicles underground. With the help of remote controlled wheel loaders, loading can begin immediately after blasting. You do not have to wait for the mine to be ventilated in order to allow staff to work underground.
For the employee, it can also be benificial in terms of a better working environment and better ergonomic conditions.