The future of road construction and maintenance is here. Driverless machinery equipped with 360 cameras are shaking up the industry, offering drastic improvements in safety, costs, quality and efficiency.
In Xuzhou, Jiangsu, China, unmanned road rolling vehicles are at work day and night on key road building projects. But rather than being controlled by an operator on-site, these vehicles are all being controlled thousands of miles away in Beijing.
The company behind this pioneering solution is construction giant, XCMG Group, China’s leading producer of construction machinery and the third largest producer worldwide. XCMG’s aim is to mitigate inefficiencies, safety hazards and delays that can occur during traditional manned operations due to driver burnout and extreme working conditions.
XCMG’s teleoperation solution currently makes use of the Insta360 Pro 2 360 camera, which is positioned on the top of the construction machinery. The camera live streams ultra-high-quality 360 footage and acts as an all-seeing eye for the remote operator.
XCMG unveiled the solution at the 2021 United Nations Global Sustainable Transport Conference in early October 2021. It is the first teleoperating solution in the construction industry that is capable of live streaming panoramic footage over 5G.
What are the benefits of remote operation for road construction?
1) Improve the safety of road construction personnel
The driverless machinery program is able to reduce over 66% of on-site personnel. Less personnel on-site means that fewer drivers are subject to hazardous construction environments, extreme weather and long shifts. In addition, without a manual driver, construction machinery can now continue working in extreme environments without putting the driver’s safety at risk.
2) Save time and money
Through teleoperation, construction work can be completed without the limitations of manual labor. Construction machinery can operate 24 hours a day, without the human limitations of a manual driver who requires rest.
XCMG’s driverless solution has slashed project timelines by over 50%. This not only saves the construction company time and money, but also drives customer satisfaction by dramatically speeding up delivery.
Companies are also experiencing additional cost savings as sourcing remote operators is much cheaper than employing drivers onsite.
3) Improve road construction quality
Insta360 Pro 2 shoots 360 footage with crystal-clear 8K image resolution. Positioned on top of the construction machinery, the 360 camera captures every detail of the construction site and removes blind spots. This allows the remote operator to safely and precisely control the vehicle at all times.
Thanks to the high-precision image data obtained by the 360 camera, the operator can make key judgments more accurately. In critical moments such as maintaining a straight rolling line, an emergency stop or obstacle avoidance, the remote operator has full awareness and machine control.
In addition, the teleoperation solution mitigates the issues of missing rolling, over rolling, over speeding, and insufficient passes. The system also strengthens the detection of defective parts of the road to further enhance the quality of construction.
How does XCMG’s teleoperation system work?
The XCMG unmanned road roller XP305AI comeswith a 5G communication module, vehicle remote control system, LiDAR sensor and Insta360 Pro 2. Each piece of equipment comes together to provide the full teleoperation solution:
- The 360 camera captures high-quality panoramic image data from the construction site.
- The 5G communication module transmits the data directly into the intelligent cabin for the remote operator to view in real time.
- The LiDAR sensor provides point-cloud-precision measurement data which is also shared with the remote operator.
Operators simply monitor in real time through the panoramic viewing screens located in the intelligent cabin or through wearing VR goggles. Operators can make judgements based on the construction task at hand and transmit the instructions back to the control unit of the vehicle. This system gives operators full immersive inspection and machine control capabilities.
XCMG’s teleoperation solution is the world’s first unmanned construction vehicle program that has been put into production and operated on site. In addition to road rollers, this solution is applicable to other construction machinery including tower cranes, excavators, construction robots and unmanned aerial vehicles.
Creating the construction technology of the future
Compared with traditional manned construction vehicle operations, the unmanned vehicle program paired with Insta360 Pro 2 offers many huge advantages. Construction companies using this system can benefit from higher construction quality and safety, shorter construction periods, lower labor intensity for construction personnel, and great improvements in customer satisfaction as a result.
“The 5G intelligent cabin solution is compatible with a variety of construction machinery and equipment. Expert operators no longer need to be on-site to drive construction vehicles, and additional drivers can also remotely assist with construction activities when difficult tasks need to be completed,” said Chief Engineer of the XCMG Road Intelligent Control Research Institute, Liu Xiaodong.
Insta360 will continue to innovate and deliver 360 technologies across a range of industries with the mission to help companies like XCMG pioneer new groundbreaking solutions.
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