Information about science based innovations, solid facts to support decision-making, performance and business development for VTT’s partners, customers and anyone interested in high technology and its applications.
A magazine on science, technology and business

Anastasiia Kanatkina

Autonomous systems are proliferating rapidly in industry

Text: Marja Saarikko | Photo: Anastasiia Kanatkina | 14.12.2017

Companies are using autonomous systems as a new source of competitiveness, efficiency and improved safety. They are also suitable for work in extreme conditions, which would prove challenging for people.

According to Ismo Vessonen, Business Development Manager at VTT, autonomous systems and partial automation are now hot topics.

– Many companies are now wondering how to make better use of systems in their business. Big companies have already drawn up roadmaps for raising their degree of automation, he says.

Commercial systems are already available and are currently being applied in warehouses, production lines and machinery, for example.

Vessonen foresees an even higher degree of automation in these areas. For example, ports and mines will continue to raise their level of automation, from which they have long benefited.

In urban environments, on the other hand, there are different goals such as the automation of door-to-door journeys. Journeys have to be made from door-to-door seamlessly, using different modes of transport. Vessonen points out that drones are underused, despite their enormous potential.

– They can streamline logistics, guarantee safety and monitor the environment. A drone can handle issues such as natural resource inventories and highly detailed monitoring of the environment's condition and situation.

Sensors play a key role

Various sensors – which can be used to measure the system's own and the surrounding situation – play a key role in autonomous systems. Vessonen says that the fusion of sensor data is highlighted in many systems.

– Various sensors provide an accurate picture of the environment. For example, in autonomous ships they are used to perceive objects in the environment.

Key technologies in other autonomous systems include artificial intelligence, reliable telecommunications and information security solutions, as well as various camera technologies.

Vessonen states that most systems are now semiautomated i.e., they still need human input. However, the degree of automation will gradually increase.

– Remote control of devices will be developed first, after which the automation of various functions will begin, he explains.

Job roles are changing

Autonomous systems in work environments mean new roles, tasks and tools for employees. For example, the working environment may transfer from field conditions to a central control room. Work tends to feel more meaningful indoors than in a crane basket, for example.

According to VTT's human-machine-expert, Hannu Karvonen, autonomous devices will not make people redundant, since all systems need supervision. However, work feels different when handled from a control room rather than directly in the field.

– Work should be designed to feel meaningful. For example, the challenge lies in making control room work so interesting that people feel like doing it, Karvonen says.

He says that ensuring situational awareness in the control room is a design priority. There must be the ability to address problems.

Other challenges include users' trust in development.

– An operator can have too little or too much trust in systems. Too much trust can lead to allowing a system to function too independently. In other cases, people may be too critical of technology, not allowing systems to perform certain tasks for other reasons.

Technology is being developed via several projects

Technologies for autonomous systems are being developed via a number of projects. The EU is investing in research into automated systems, particularly in ICT, factories of the future and the transport sectors. VTT has around a dozen EU projects underway, related to automated systems in transport and industry.

In Finland, examples include the Design for Value technology programme coordinated by DIMECC Oy, in which digitalisation's impact on supply chains is being studied with the aim of achieving a networked, autonomous and highproductivity ecosystem. The marine industry, in particular, and the development of its autonomous systems are strongly involved in the programme.

For Vessonen, VTT's strengths lie in combining the changing roles of people with technological opportunities and ensuring information and operational security with the help of simulation solutions, for example.

– Many systems interact with each other. If safe operation is ensured virtually, costs are lowered and product development cycles are accelerated, he says.

 

 

Impulsehttp://www.vttresearch.com/ImpulseImpulse
Impulse 1/2016http://www.vttresearch.com/Impulse/Pages/Impulse-1-2016.aspxImpulse 1/2016
Impulse 1/2014http://www.vttresearch.com/Impulse/Pages/Impulse-1-2014.aspxImpulse 1/2014
Impulse 2/2014http://www.vttresearch.com/Impulse/Pages/Impulse-2-2014.aspxImpulse 2/2014
Impulse 2/2015http://www.vttresearch.com/Impulse/Pages/Impulse-2-2015.aspxImpulse 2/2015
Impulse 1/2017http://www.vttresearch.com/Impulse/Pages/Impulse-1-2017.aspxImpulse 1/2017
Developers of the futurehttp://www.vttresearch.com/Impulse/Pages/Developers-of-the-future.aspxDevelopers of the future
A birthday gift from us to ourselveshttp://www.vttresearch.com/Impulse/Pages/A-birthday-gift-from-us-to-ourselves.aspxA birthday gift from us to ourselves
Advancing cyber security on several frontshttp://www.vttresearch.com/Impulse/Pages/Advancing-cyber-security-on-several-fronts.aspxAdvancing cyber security on several fronts
All sights on generationhttp://www.vttresearch.com/Impulse/Pages/All-sights-on-generation.aspxAll sights on generation
A machine is more humanehttp://www.vttresearch.com/Impulse/Pages/A-machine-is-more-humane.aspxA machine is more humane
Before information gets lost in numbershttp://www.vttresearch.com/Impulse/Pages/Before-information-gets-lost-in-numbers.aspxBefore information gets lost in numbers
Better beer based on long-term researchhttp://www.vttresearch.com/Impulse/Pages/Better-beer-based-on-long-term-research.aspxBetter beer based on long-term research
Boost for propeller developmenthttp://www.vttresearch.com/Impulse/Pages/Boost-for-propeller-development.aspxBoost for propeller development
Business angel speaks out: Growth from the international arenahttp://www.vttresearch.com/Impulse/Pages/Business-angel-speaks-out-Growth-from-the-international-arena.aspxBusiness angel speaks out: Growth from the international arena
Challenges conceal opportunitieshttp://www.vttresearch.com/Impulse/Pages/Challenges-conceal-opportunities.aspxChallenges conceal opportunities
Comfy but energy efficient homeshttp://www.vttresearch.com/Impulse/Pages/Comfy-but-energy-efficient-homes.aspxComfy but energy efficient homes
Cyber security requires more than just technological competenceshttp://www.vttresearch.com/Impulse/Pages/Cyber-security-requires-more-than-just-technological-competences.aspxCyber security requires more than just technological competences
Demand for energy storage is growing rapidlyhttp://www.vttresearch.com/Impulse/Pages/Demand-for-energy-storage-is-growing-rapidly.aspxDemand for energy storage is growing rapidly
Designers needed in printed technologyhttp://www.vttresearch.com/Impulse/Pages/Designers-needed-in-printed-technology.aspxDesigners needed in printed technology
Finland on its way towards low-carbon year 2050http://www.vttresearch.com/Impulse/Pages/Finland-on-its-way-towards-low-carbon-year-2050.aspxFinland on its way towards low-carbon year 2050
Health benefits and efficiency without sacrificing food qualityhttp://www.vttresearch.com/Impulse/Pages/Health-benefits-and-efficiency-without-sacrificing-food-quality.aspxHealth benefits and efficiency without sacrificing food quality
How to become a leading country in flexible energy production systemshttp://www.vttresearch.com/Impulse/Pages/How-to-become-a-leading-country-in-flexible-energy-production-systems.aspxHow to become a leading country in flexible energy production systems
Intelligence for machineshttp://www.vttresearch.com/Impulse/Pages/Intelligence-for-machines.aspxIntelligence for machines
VTT Impulsehttp://www.vttresearch.com/Impulse/Pages/MainPage.aspxVTT Impulse
Modelling and simulation facilitateshttp://www.vttresearch.com/Impulse/Pages/Modelling-and-simulation-facilitates.aspxModelling and simulation facilitates
Research with impacthttp://www.vttresearch.com/Impulse/Pages/Research-with-impact.aspxResearch with impact
Return on investmentshttp://www.vttresearch.com/Impulse/Pages/Return-on-investments.aspxReturn on investments
Same old routine for the next 100 yearshttp://www.vttresearch.com/Impulse/Pages/Same-old-routine-for-the-next-100-years.aspxSame old routine for the next 100 years
Serious efforts to boost the Finnish economyhttp://www.vttresearch.com/Impulse/Pages/Serious-efforts-to-boost-the-Finnish-economy.aspxSerious efforts to boost the Finnish economy
Sustainability and acceptability for mining operationshttp://www.vttresearch.com/Impulse/Pages/Sustainability-and-acceptability-for-mining-operations.aspxSustainability and acceptability for mining operations
Using personal know-how to promote the common goodhttp://www.vttresearch.com/Impulse/Pages/Using-personal-know-how-to-promote-the-common-good.aspxUsing personal know-how to promote the common good
We cannot afford not to have robotshttp://www.vttresearch.com/Impulse/Pages/We-cannot-afford-not-to-have-robots.aspxWe cannot afford not to have robots
Petri Kalliokoski: Artificial intelligence moves from words to deedshttp://www.vttresearch.com/Impulse/Pages/Petri-Kalliokoski-Artificial-intelligence-moves-from-words-to-deeds.aspxPetri Kalliokoski: Artificial intelligence moves from words to deeds
The story of Finlandhttp://www.vttresearch.com/Impulse/Pages/The-story-of-Finland.aspxThe story of Finland
New power for the electronics industryhttp://www.vttresearch.com/Impulse/Pages/New-power-for-the-electronics-industry.aspxNew power for the electronics industry
A future without wastewater?http://www.vttresearch.com/Impulse/Pages/A-future-without-wastewater.aspxA future without wastewater?
Automation gives packages wingshttp://www.vttresearch.com/Impulse/Pages/Automation-gives-packages-wings.aspxAutomation gives packages wings
Intelligent transport – a trump card for Finnish exportshttp://www.vttresearch.com/Impulse/Pages/Intelligent-transport-a-trump-card-for-Finnish-exports.aspxIntelligent transport – a trump card for Finnish exports
The creative force of change managementhttp://www.vttresearch.com/Impulse/Pages/The-creative-force-of-change-management.aspxThe creative force of change management
Are environmental claims believable?http://www.vttresearch.com/Impulse/Pages/Are-environmental-claims-believable.aspxAre environmental claims believable?
Impulse 1/2015http://www.vttresearch.com/Impulse/Pages/Impulse-1-2015.aspxImpulse 1/2015
Sensor of tomorrowhttp://www.vttresearch.com/Impulse/Pages/Sensor-of-tomorrow.aspxSensor of tomorrow
Finnish expertise for solving global problemshttp://www.vttresearch.com/Impulse/Pages/Finnish-expertise-for-solving-global-problems.aspxFinnish expertise for solving global problems
Impulse 2/2017http://www.vttresearch.com/Impulse/Pages/Impulse-2-2017.aspxImpulse 2/2017
Ambassadors of service-mindednesshttp://www.vttresearch.com/Impulse/Pages/Ambassadors-of-service-mindedness.aspxAmbassadors of service-mindedness
The new agenda enhances the use of research infrastructurehttp://www.vttresearch.com/Impulse/Pages/The-new-agenda-enhances-the-use-of-research-infrastructure.aspxThe new agenda enhances the use of research infrastructure
Industrial cyber security improves through cooperationhttp://www.vttresearch.com/Impulse/Pages/Industrial-cyber-security-improves-through-cooperation.aspxIndustrial cyber security improves through cooperation
Impulse 2/2016http://www.vttresearch.com/Impulse/Pages/Impulse-2-2016.aspxImpulse 2/2016
Business for transportationhttp://www.vttresearch.com/Impulse/Pages/Business-for-transportation.aspxBusiness for transportation

CONTACT US

P.O. Box 1000, FI-02044 VTT, Finland
Tel. exchange +358 20 722 111
Opening hours Mon - Fri 8:00 - 16:30,
UTC +3 time zone

CUSTOMER SERVICE

info@vtt.fi
Tel. +358 20 722 7070
Opening hours Mon - Fri 9:00 - 11:00 and 12:00 - 15:00,
UTC +3 time zone