Design of a workstation for teleoperated forwarders : Exploring the future work within forestry

University essay from Luleå tekniska universitet/Institutionen för ekonomi, teknik och samhälle

Abstract: This thesis work has been the result of a five-year Industrial Design Engineering education at Luleå University of Technology. The project has investigated the possibilities of teleoperating forest machines using a human-centered design approach. The work has been conducted for Skogforsk, which is the Swedish institute for forestry. The project’s objective was to present ideas on how future teleoperation can improve the work as a forwarder operator. The aim was to identify the forwarder operators’ specific needs and explore how the development of a teleoperated workstation can address those needs. The project has been carried out using three phases; Inspiration, Ideation, and Impleentation. During the first phase, the project investigated how the work is carried out today and what needs a forwarder operator has. The operators’ needs can be summarised in three different areas; transporting the machine, loading and unloading, and planning. Two kinds of operators can be seen today, the ones who are motivated primarily by working in the forest, and the ones who are motivated by the production and self-competitiveness. During the Inspiration phase, the project also tested what problems exist today with operating a forwarder using teleoperation with the system implemented in the Truedsson Forestry Lab in Uppsala. It was identified that screens are an essential complement to using head-mounted displays such as VR-goggles while not offering the same amount of precision and presence in work as the goggles. It was also identified that the operators did not feel that the machine being an extension of them due to lost feedback of motion and sound. Perceived and actual control of the machine differed, and the operators did not identify the machines’ behavior during transportation. Apart from these issues, the current view did not offer a complete overview of the area around the machine. Neither did it offer visuals on the sides of the machine, and the logs sortings. Along with the identified issues, opportunities for improvement guided the explorational work through creative workshops to solutions presented and tested in either an operational test or in a video test. The ideas included the implementation of sound focusing on the gripper, which was appreciated by the operators. The precision using screens was improved by projecting the gripper’s position on the ground plane. For control of the transportation work, the project proposed solutions for indicators on tilt, roll, and the wheels of the machine. Nevertheless, it proposed an idea of projected tracks improving the work to become more proactive by highlighting obstacles and the near term position of the machine. The project also tested overview improving ideas such as drone views, and a 360 degrees view which may have potential in the future teleoperation work. Several other ideas were tested and can be seen in the Results chapter. For future work, the project proposes more tests of various ideas in a more reality-based setting. The project also proposes future work focusing on defining the future user better. For the individual operators reading this thesis work, I hope this paper can show the potentials of teleoperation, as well as prove that the development is aware of both the difficulties and the possibilities with teleoperating forest machines. For the forestry industry, I hope this paper can inspire future work to use the technology to favor the operators’ needs, and not only adapt the current cabin to work being carried out remotely. It is important to note that work in the cabin and work carried out remotely will have a significant difference in what advantages to offer. We will most definitely see operators working in the forest for many years ahead, and the future operators of teleoperation will probably not be the ones that are motivated by work in the forest today. This means that a new kind of user will emerge supplementing the current users rather than replacing them.

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