Open Cut » Maintenance & Equipment
Bulldozers often work in hazardous environments. Teleoperation provides a viable means for enabling operators to perform work without being directly exposed to the hazards of these environments. The benefits of utilising teleoperated bulldozers in coal stockpile management tasks, for example, are compelling given the potential to completely eliminate the risk of operator engulfment.
However, removing the operator from the bulldozer presents many challenges associated with reduced perception. This project has explored the unique perception requirements for teleoperation of bulldozers. The motivation for this research was to determine what factors are critical to achieving high levels of teleoperation performance and user acceptance to support the maturation of these technologies.
To conduct this investigation, an enhanced perception cell capable of high fidelity replication of motion, visual and aural cues was integrated with an existing bulldozer teleoperation system. The cell enabled targeted analysis of the influence of individual feedback cues on performance and user acceptance.
Experiments have been conducted with the enhanced perception cell for a structured bulldozing task to better understand operator requirements. Visual quality was found to be the dominant factor influencing operator performance. Motion feedback was found to improve aspects of performance but no additional benefit in task completion time beyond that provided by enhanced visual quality. The value of task visualisation to support accuracy and planning was also highlighted. It is hoped that the knowledge presented may support the maturation of bulldozer teleoperation systems leading to wider uptake and utilisation in hazardous circumstances.