Kobelco and Leica collaborate to develop remote excavator operation

Kobelco Construction Machinery (KCM) has announced a new collaboration with Leica Geosystems to develop integrated 2D and 3D machine control solutions that can be operated remotely, as part of the K-Dive Concept.

KCM is developing a remote control system called K-Dive Concept. By manipulating a dedicated cockpit with displays showing the jobsite from an office, operators can control excavators remotely without going to the real jobsite. So now, with a focus on bringing more efficiency, safety and productivity through digitalisation to the heavy construction industry, KCM and Leica Geosystems work together to help facilitate the remote operation of excavators. This partnership will leverage Leica Geosystems’ know-how in relation to K-Dive Concept’s next generation telework system using remote operation technology for operators.

K-Dive Concept will allow a diverse range of operators to work efficiently, having access to any jobsite without being restricted by location. Using a remote system enables contractors to view progress of jobsites virtually and it is also used as virtual training for operators.

“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,” said Yoichiro Yamazaki, general manager, business development department, corporate planning division at KCM. “Our IoT revolutionises the improvement of safety and on-site productivity, allowing a diverse range of operators to work remotely.”

“We are honoured to be chosen as technology partner in our common journey towards an autonomous jobsite,” said Magnus Thibblin, president, machine control at Leica Geosystems. “Working with a leading excavator manufacturer like KCM, fulfill our ambition to be on 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 this solution via K-Dive Concept, remote operators can easily control excavators’ performance on a jobsite in real-time. KCM also revealed that it will adopt high-speed 5G mobile communication systems as the core of K-Dive Concept in the future.

K-Dive Concept is a construction equipment telework service system, which KCM is researching and developing. This system enables construction machinery operators to work remotely by providing remote control and connecting data of operators, construction machinery and businesses. KCM highlighted that through such a human-centric work-style innovation, the company aims to create attractive environments where anyone can work and contribute to the creation of a prosperous society.

According to KCM, K-Dive Concept is under development aiming for the practical application in Japan, and the global expansion has not been decided yet.