With an industry first, ASV sales and service demonstrated a fully autonomous tracked loader. We caught up with Kevin Keenan, TEREX Product Manager, as he operated the machine.
“We’re operating a fully remote TEREX PT110, and this is the first time its been seen in Australia in a construction configuration,” said Keenan. “Initially designed for the military, the loader features US designed technology, developed by a company specialising in technology and robotics for machinery and drones.”
“So far, some 150 machines have been modified for TEREX with units being delivered to the US and Korean armies. We recently brought the technology here and, almost immediately, sold two units,” he said.
“The technology suits the construction industry perfectly. At any one time, 8 cameras can be mounted on the top of the cab, and these can include night vision options. The technology is state of the art but it’s easy to implement and use. The software driving the machine is on a standard laptop and the command centre is basically an X-box controller.”
“The machine communicates with the controls via radio frequency. In the US they were operating the machines from an air-conditioned room up to one and a half miles away. For our purposes, we simply went to a games store, purchased an X-Box controller that’s Wi-Fi compatible with the laptop, and this enables us to operate remotely,” continued Keenan.
In case of an emergency, the machine has ‘e-stops’ built into the system. If the on-board cameras and sensors detect anyone or anything dangerously inline, the machine will automatically shut down.
“This technology will suit machines utilised in applications where the conditions are deemed perilous for an operator. For example, the units we have in the field are operating on very steep grades that are too steep for operators. We certainly see remote controlled construction equipment as a key development for the future and what we are showing at the expo is just the tip of the iceberg.”