Of all the machinery and equipment used on construction sites, excavators are responsible for the greatest number of fatal accidents. Excavation is an inherently risky process due to imprecise work processes and the unstable external environment on most work sites. The resulting accidents cause serious injuries that threaten the lives of not only the excavator pilots but also those working around them. In this study, we propose a mechanical device that is capable of operating the excavator remotely from a nearby safe location such as a site office. To ensure worker safety and at the same time boost the productivity of excavation operations, data from 3D scanners, cameras, and sensors were combined to create a detailed 3D picture of the area surrounding the excavation site to guide a remotely operated excavating system. Rather than modifying the excavator itself, a removable manipulator was mounted on the joystick in the excavator’s cockpit. Our proposed system was tested on a standard commercial excavator to verify its performance for a real-world excavation task.
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