Elisa augments 5G remote control tractor for dangerous work

News

Elisa's 5G remote control solution for Valtra tractors has been enhanced so that the vehicle can be operated without a driver sitting in the cab, even in challenging situations that could otherwise put life at risk.

"This is the first real use case for utilising the Elisa 5G remote control solution for a tractor," Kimmo Pentikäinen, Vice President, Business Development, Elisa, told Mobile Europe.

The use case test mocked up the scenario in which a bag suspected of containing an explosive has been found in luggage in an airport terminal, and another has been spotted in which possible nerve gas has been detected. Specialist robots move the bags out of the terminal to the car park, where a remote-controlled tractor picks up the dangerous packages and transports them further away for destruction.

Pentikäinen said: "One way to protect yourself from dangers is to increase protection. However, it easily comes up against limits. When a protective suit or armoured vehicle is safe against various threats such as explosions and chemical warfare agents, it is also very clumsy, expensive and heavy. A better way is to remove the driver from the danger area completely."

Remote operation

The tractor control solution was first introduced at the Elisa 5G Showroom in March and now offers new features. The compact, portable Elisa 5G remote control solution can be quickly installed in a Valtra tractor, enabling it to be remotely controlled over the Elisa 5G network from a control room that could be hundreds of kilometres away from the tractor itself.

The remote operator has a 360-degree view of the tractor's surroundings for easy observation. 

The latest version has turned a mass-produced Valtra tractor into a 5G remote-controlled "work machine". All Valtra tractors have the technology in place to enable remote control. In this case, an additional specialist device was attached to the front of the tractor to allow the grapple to act as a gripper.

Next steps

The solution's commercialisation is pending regulatory clearance.

Tommi Malinen, Director, Key Accounts and Strategy, Valtra, said: "The pilot project has made the needs of our customers visible more effectively than we expected. Many of our customers have realised that the journey to fully autonomous operation involves intermediate phases that can be quickly utilised, with a low investment threshold. However, the solution's commercialisation still requires close co-operation with legislators as vehicle regulations are very strict everywhere. Technical details also need to be honed to perfection in all areas of the solution – in Finland, this is made easier by our excellent collaboration network."

Pentikäinen added: "Our extensive 5G network also plays a key role in this solution. Situations that require completely delay-free technology and high image quality, enabled by a ten-fold increase in data speed, definitely call for 5G. Elisa 5G is the solution for remote-controlled devices because it also enables a high level of data security and disruption-free operation. Authorities often encounter situations where these solutions are needed, as do various companies and organisations, whose operations 5G solutions can make more efficient."