Generic haptic control interface for a number manually and remote operated working machines such as mining, forestry, agricultural and off-shore providing force feedback from freely selected variable. It also provides motion control in 6 degrees of freedom. Any symbolic tool handle can be used to control a machine. Multiple placement and user configurations are available in various cabin and control rooms environments. It enables a single-hand control of 6 degrees of freedom.
A key problem in remote operation of unmanned machines is the lack of sensory information which is essential in carrying out various tasks in traditional manual control. This results in low production capacity and overloading of machines. Joy sticks, pedals and steering wheels in manual control also have their drawbacks when the automation level of machines increases. Haptic control recovers the lost sensory feedbacks in remote operation and enables operation from cabin with high productivity and good ergonomics.
Millions of Euros can be saved annually particularly in mining and container handling due to improved productivity and durability of machines. The technology developed makes remote operation an attractive solution in several areas of machinery such as forestry, agriculture, shipping and off-shore in which it is not yet used.
In container handling 30 % better production capacity can be achieved due to fast damping of swinging of container and faster capture and loose of containers, and 50 % better damage avoidance (collisions with trucks, other containers, locking failures etc.). In mining loaders approximated 40 % better production capacity can be achieved due better bucket filling, and 50 % better durability (less collisions, no bucket and boom overloading).
Third prototype of the haptic device is constructed, but the capabilities are still insufficient for commercial application. Simulator environment test results in Lappeenranta University of technology have indicated the documented capabilities. Proper design of electronics, motors and software should be made to achieve commercial level prototype. Certificates and official approvals should be studied, and user tests with real machines should be carried out.
Professor Heikki Handroos, Lappeenranta University of Technology
VTT, Tampere University of Technology, Cargotec Oyj, Sandvik Mining and Construction Oyj, MeVEA Oy, Savant Simulators Oy