World’s first trial of remote control high-lift wheeled loader

By Andy Brown19 November 2021

The world’s first trial of a remote-controlled High-lift wheeled loader over a 5G network in a complex forestry application has been carried out by Volvo Construction Equipment (Volvo CE).

The Remote Timber research project is a collaboration between Volvo CE and the telecom operator, timber and paper manufacturer SCA, Mid University Sweden, Skogforsk and Biometria.

The tests at SCA’s timber terminal in Sweden have demonstrated that it is possible to tele-operate a Volvo L180 High-lift wheel loader, hundreds of km away.

Using a closed 5G network with low latency allowed operators to perform the sensitive process of picking, loading and organizing logs remotely.

Tele-operated forestry is expected to deliver improved productivity by allowing one operator to work across multiple – and sometimes isolated – sites around the world. It is also expected to make it both safer, by removing humans from potentially hazardous environments, and more sustainable, through more efficient logistics flows as the loading and unloading of timber can also be done during the night.

Christian Spjutare, advanced engineering program manager, Volvo CE, said, “We expect tele-operation to open up far greater opportunities for operators than is currently available. Sometimes it can be difficult to hire people in timber terminals because of their remote locations.

“Tele-operation allows people to work from any location, no matter the distance, making it a more desirable work setting, with the added advantage of more efficient and sustainable work logistics.”

Volvo CE added that an important aim of the research project is to explore exactly what is required from an operator perspective in making tele-operation a user-friendly and efficient experience. The OEM is exploring the potential for tele-operation across a variety of segments, from mining to urban construction, with this project testing the technology in its most challenging application yet.

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