Kobelco working on system to allow equipment operators to work on job-sites from virtual cockpits

Kobelco collaborating with Leica Geosystems to develop remote machine control operations

Kobelco Construction Machinery (KCM) has announced a collaboration with Leica Geosystems to develop integrated 2D and 3D machine control solutions which can be operated remotely.

Part of Kobelco’s ‘K-DIVE CONCEPT’ – the Japanese equipment maker’s remote control system – the system involves manipulating a dedicated cockpit with displays showing the job-site from an office. Operators can control excavators remotely without going to the real job-site.

“With a focus on bringing more efficiency, safety and productivity through digitalisation to the heavy construction industry, KCM and Leica Geosystems are working together to help facilitate the remote operation of excavators. The relationship will take advantage of Leica Geosystems’ know-how in relation to K-DIVE CONCEPT’s next generation Telework System using remote operation technology for operators,” said a statement from Kobelco.

The concept will allow a diverse range of operators to work efficiently with access to any job-site without being restricted by location. Using a remote system enables contractors to view progress of jobsites virtually and also use it as virtual training for operators.

Yoichiro Yamazaki, KCM general manager, Business Development Department, Corporate Planning Division, said: “We have great ambitions with K-DIVE CONCEPT, and in our search for technology to achieve this, we are excited to work with Leica Geosystems. Our IoT revolutionises the improvement of safety and on-site productivity, allowing a diverse range of operators to work remotely.”

Magnus Thibblin, Leica Geosystems Machine Control president, added: “We are honoured to be chosen as technology partner in our common journey towards an autonomous jobsite. Working with a leading excavator manufacturer like KCM, fulfils our ambition to be at the forefront of technology within the heavy construction industry.”

The advanced Leica iCON 3D excavator machine control solution guides the operator using reference models and GNSS in 3D. Design information and real-time cut/fill indications are displayed on the control panel, allowing the operators to rapidly excavate to the reference design on projects, such as large road and infrastructure construction, subdivision building, industrial sites and demolition works. By using that solution via K-DIVE CONCEPT, remote operators can easily control excavators’ performance on a jobsite in real-time. Also, KCM will take advantage of high-speed 5G mobile communication systems as the core of K-DIVE CONCEPT in the future.

The K-DIVE CONCEPT is under development for practical application in Japan at the moment, said Kobelco, and its global expansion has not been decided yet.

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