Al­ready has a re­mote-con­trolled har­vester

New Zealand Logger - - Harvest Tech 2017 -

NEW ZEALAND RE­SEARCHERS ARE NOT ALONE IN DE­VEL­OP­ING A har­vest­ing ma­chine that can be re­motely con­trolled by an op­er­a­tor out­side of the cab.

Cater­pil­lar has also used its ex­pe­ri­ence with re­mote-con­trolled min­ing equip­ment to pro­duce a feller-buncher for a special har­vest­ing job.

Phil Pol­lock, In­dus­try Sales & Mar­ket­ing Man­ager for the Asia Pa­cific re­gion with Cater­pil­lar, told the Har­vest TECH 2017 con­fer­ence in Ro­torua that his com­pany re­ceived an un­usual re­quest from the US Army to clear a for­est that was rid­dled with live mu­ni­tions.

“We took a 521B and ap­plied the re­mote tech­nol­ogy from our (min­ing equip­ment) to this ma­chine,” says Paul.

“It was run re­motely to be able to de-for­est this area, which was laden with un­ex­ploded mu­ni­tions.”

How­ever, just like the team here at For­est Grow­ers Re­search, who de­vel­oped a tele-op­er­ated sys­tem in con­junc­tion with Wood Con­tract­ing in Nel­son, tak­ing that tech­nol­ogy into a pro­duc­tion for­est en­vi­ron­ment is still a chal­lenge.

“There is still work to be done with how we can suc­cess­fully in­tro­duce it to forestry, where you have dif­fer­ent ter­rain and lots of vari­ables to deal with,” he says, ad­ding that bar­ri­ers to its wider in­tro­duc­tion in­clude “scal­a­bil­ity, vol­ume and cost”.

The tech­nol­ogy it­self is al­ready here and be­ing used, Phil says. Cater­pil­lar has supplied a fleet of re­mote-con­trolled dump trucks that are run­ning in min­ing op­er­a­tions in Western Aus­tralia and it suc­cess­fully cre­ated a tele-op­er­ated bull­dozer that per­formed at a large con­struc­tion ex­hi­bi­tion while the op­er­a­tor was thou­sands of kilo­me­tres away.

Cater­pil­lar is also de­vel­op­ing equip­ment with ‘semi-au­tonomous’ tech­nol­ogy, Phil told the con­fer­ence.

“We are now mov­ing to­wards a sin­gle joy­stick con­trol ca­pa­bil­ity,” he says, de­scrib­ing a sys­tem that par­tially au­to­mates var­i­ous func­tions, such as the swing, boom, bucket and travel op­er­a­tions.

Cater­pil­lar has also de­vel­oped cam­era sys­tems that pro­vide the op­er­a­tor with full 360-de­gree vi­sion so they can see ev­ery­thing in a sin­gle view, in­clud­ing ar­eas hid­den by the boom or en­gine bon­net. Us­ing that tech­nol­ogy Cater­pil­lar is de­vel­op­ing a sys­tem that de­tects other equip­ment or even peo­ple on the ground and it will shut down the ma­chine if they are de­tected in its ‘ex­clu­sion zone’.


This Cater­pil­lar 521B was fit­ted with re­mote­con­trol tech­nol­ogy so that it could har­vest a for­est that con­tained live mu­ni­tions – and just to add in­ter­est to the job, it’s snow­ing heav­ily.

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