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Which new Technologies can Improve Safety in Autonomous Construction Equipment

Construction Tech Review | Monday, November 11, 2019

Construction sites can be difficult to navigate, but there are two emerging sensors that can help in navigation. The combination of the radar and LiDAR will provide the construction industry with the robust detection it needs.

FREMONT, CA: In recent years, self-driven vehicles have taken huge steps and received most of the attention of the consumers. The explosion of innovations has made it possible to create autonomous cars. Therefore, the specialty vehicle manufacturers must see this as an opportunity to expand the technology and use it in construction sites as well.

Machines like the skid steers and much other heavy construction equipment have proved that the manufacturers can implement the latest technologies in them.

The advanced self-driving applications will improve the safety and effectiveness of the construction sites if they are applied in ways that are specific to the industry.

Two sensors have emerged as essential technologies that can help operate the construction vehicles autonomously. The two sensors are LiDAR (light detection and ranging), and high-resolution imaging radar. The sensors will act as the eyes for the operators and help them to obstacles or avoid collisions with humans and equipment in the surrounding area.

However, there is a debate regarding both the sensors and the one that will dominate the autonomous vehicle in the future.

The limits of LiDAR

LiDAR provides its users with high-resolution, 3D images of the surroundings that are very close to human eye detection. Its importance is narrowed down to some degree due to the operating environment. However, the technology of LiDAR can operate in extreme conditions like heavy dust, rain, snow, or fog, but its performance can also degrade significantly in these conditions.

On the other hand, unlike LiDar, there are no such limitations of radar. The technology of radar can perform in both poor and clear conditions making it a necessary application for the construction appliances.  

The new advanced automotive imaging radar sensors provide a high-resolution point cloud of a vehicle’s surroundings that permits to understand the environment in real-time, which also includes detecting humans, equipment, and other obstacles such as walls.

The sensor also recognizes the location of an object and provides information about the range, speed, and altitude. It can also create a 2D point cloud map of the area, and the objects surrounding it will be shown in 3D shapes. The sensor can also be used in various types of autonomous vehicles in the construction sector, such as the remote operation of construction equipment, self-driving skid steers, excavators and, many more.

Sensor fusion as a collaborative solution

It is common to use sensor fusion in the self-driving cars, and it may consist of LiDar, fusing radar, and even camera data together for producing the most dependable images that are possible.

Along with the sensor fusion, it is possible to estimate the reliability of each sensor online and also can be used in mapping and object detection only when it is necessary. For example, when the system detects any dust that is corrupting LiDAR or camera data, it can automatically disable those sensors and turn to radar sensors until the LiDAR or cameras become dependable again. 

Some job site managers cannot accept the full infusion of autonomous with their equipment. For this equipment, the advanced sensor can be used that will allow remote operation of construction vehicles, such as skid steer loaders, and hence, increasing workplace safety by removing human operators from unsafe environments.

Side-stepping safety hazards

The Construction vehicles that are equipped with sensors and control systems can detect any narrow path while they are moving forward, the vehicles will also be able to change course or stop when any barriers are detected on the way.  

Other frequent job site risks are the deep potholes due to which many skid steers fall down and get stuck in them. Besides, there are also many other risks that an operator can go through and suffer from numerous injuries. In these cases, if the machine is equipped with radar, it will alert the driver so that the person can stop the vehicle and save them from any mishap. 

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