Sign In
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.

 

 

VTT Impulsehttps://www.vttresearch.com/ImpulseVTT Impulse
Towards carbon-neutral materialshttps://www.vttresearch.com/Impulse/Pages/Towards-carbon-neutral-materials.aspxTowards carbon-neutral materials
Towards patient-centred, personalised healthcarehttps://www.vttresearch.com/Impulse/Pages/Towards-patient-centred-personalised-healthcare.aspxTowards patient-centred, personalised healthcare
Cyber security modelled on the vaccination programmehttps://www.vttresearch.com/Impulse/Pages/Cyber-security-modelled-on-the-vaccination-programme.aspxCyber security modelled on the vaccination programme
A birthday gift from us to ourselveshttps://www.vttresearch.com/Impulse/Pages/A-birthday-gift-from-us-to-ourselves.aspxA birthday gift from us to ourselves
All sights on generationhttps://www.vttresearch.com/Impulse/Pages/All-sights-on-generation.aspxAll sights on generation
Are environmental claims believable?https://www.vttresearch.com/Impulse/Pages/Are-environmental-claims-believable.aspxAre environmental claims believable?
Better beer based on long-term researchhttps://www.vttresearch.com/Impulse/Pages/Better-beer-based-on-long-term-research.aspxBetter beer based on long-term research
Boost for propeller developmenthttps://www.vttresearch.com/Impulse/Pages/Boost-for-propeller-development.aspxBoost for propeller development
Brazil paves the way for bioenergyhttps://www.vttresearch.com/Impulse/Pages/Brazil-paves-the-way-for-bioenergy.aspxBrazil paves the way for bioenergy
Challenges conceal opportunitieshttps://www.vttresearch.com/Impulse/Pages/Challenges-conceal-opportunities.aspxChallenges conceal opportunities
Comfy but energy efficient homeshttps://www.vttresearch.com/Impulse/Pages/Comfy-but-energy-efficient-homes.aspxComfy but energy efficient homes
Designers needed in printed technologyhttps://www.vttresearch.com/Impulse/Pages/Designers-needed-in-printed-technology.aspxDesigners needed in printed technology
Developers of the futurehttps://www.vttresearch.com/Impulse/Pages/Developers-of-the-future.aspxDevelopers of the future
Tua Huomo: Energy production and use – smart choices have an impacthttps://www.vttresearch.com/Impulse/Pages/Energy-production-and-use–smart-choices-an-impact.aspxTua Huomo: Energy production and use – smart choices have an impact
From a fishing port to a model district for smart energyhttps://www.vttresearch.com/Impulse/Pages/From-a-fishing-port-to-a-model-district-for-smart-energy.aspxFrom a fishing port to a model district for smart energy
Intelligence for machineshttps://www.vttresearch.com/Impulse/Pages/Intelligence-for-machines.aspxIntelligence for machines
Minister of Energy would like to expand emissions tradinghttps://www.vttresearch.com/Impulse/Pages/Minister-of-Energy-would-like-to-expand-emissions-trading.aspxMinister of Energy would like to expand emissions trading
More than siliconhttps://www.vttresearch.com/Impulse/Pages/More-than-just-Silicon.aspxMore than silicon
Petri Kalliokoski: Artificial intelligence moves from words to deedshttps://www.vttresearch.com/Impulse/Pages/Petri-Kalliokoski-Artificial-intelligence-moves-from-words-to-deeds.aspxPetri Kalliokoski: Artificial intelligence moves from words to deeds
Salofa creates rapid tests for monitoring health and the environmenthttps://www.vttresearch.com/Impulse/Pages/Salofa-creates-rapid-tests-for-monitoring-health-and-the-environment.aspxSalofa creates rapid tests for monitoring health and the environment
Same old routine for the next 100 yearshttps://www.vttresearch.com/Impulse/Pages/Same-old-routine-for-the-next-100-years.aspxSame old routine for the next 100 years
Swift and agile in business and in the foresthttps://www.vttresearch.com/Impulse/Pages/Swift-and-agile-in-business-and-in-the-forest.aspxSwift and agile in business and in the forest
VTT Impulsehttps://www.vttresearch.com/Impulse/Pages/MainPage.aspxVTT Impulse
What's going on in Australia?https://www.vttresearch.com/Impulse/Pages/Whats-going-on-in-Australia.aspxWhat's going on in Australia?
Digitalization in RTOs: Speeding up the development of bio-based technologies with digitalizationhttps://www.vttresearch.com/Impulse/Pages/Digitalisation-in-RTOs-Speeding-up-the-development-of-bio-based-technologies-with-digitalization.aspxDigitalization in RTOs: Speeding up the development of bio-based technologies with digitalization
Modelling and simulation facilitateshttps://www.vttresearch.com/Impulse/Pages/Modelling-and-simulation-facilitates.aspxModelling and simulation facilitates
Tracking peoplehttps://www.vttresearch.com/Impulse/Pages/Tracking-people.aspxTracking people
Could smartglasses replace smartphones? VTT spin-off Dispelix to commercialise a virtual display for glasseshttps://www.vttresearch.com/Impulse/Pages/Could-smartglasses-replace-smartphones-VTT-spin-off-Dispelix-to-commercialise-a-virtual-display-for-glasses.aspxCould smartglasses replace smartphones? VTT spin-off Dispelix to commercialise a virtual display for glasses
Hybrid methods offer new solutions for metals recyclinghttps://www.vttresearch.com/Impulse/Pages/Hybrid-methods-offer-new-solutions-for-metals-recycling.aspxHybrid methods offer new solutions for metals recycling
Bioeconomy and circular economyhttps://www.vttresearch.com/Impulse/Pages/Bioeconomy-and-circular-economy.aspxBioeconomy and circular economy
Health and wellbeinghttps://www.vttresearch.com/Impulse/Pages/Health-and-wellbeing.aspxHealth and wellbeing
Low carbon energyhttps://www.vttresearch.com/Impulse/Pages/Low-carbon-energy.aspxLow carbon energy
Smart industryhttps://www.vttresearch.com/Impulse/Pages/Smart-industry.aspxSmart industry
Digital societyhttps://www.vttresearch.com/Impulse/Pages/Digital-society.aspxDigital society
Smart Citieshttps://www.vttresearch.com/Impulse/Pages/Smart-Cities.aspxSmart Cities
Business developmenthttps://www.vttresearch.com/Impulse/Pages/Business-development.aspxBusiness development
Smarter products and modules – produced more efficientlyhttps://www.vttresearch.com/Impulse/Pages/Smarter-products-and-modules-–-produced-more-efficiently.aspxSmarter products and modules – produced more efficiently
By measuring you can improvehttps://www.vttresearch.com/Impulse/Pages/By-measuring-you-can-improve.aspxBy measuring you can improve
A man driven by optimism and curiosityhttps://www.vttresearch.com/Impulse/Pages/A-man-driven-by-optimism-and-curiosity.aspxA man driven by optimism and curiosity
Cleaner city traffic with wood-based dieselhttps://www.vttresearch.com/Impulse/Pages/Cleaner-city-traffic-with-wood-based-diesel.aspxCleaner city traffic with wood-based diesel
Food in transitionhttps://www.vttresearch.com/Impulse/Pages/Food-in-transition.aspxFood in transition
Why do so many women feel chilly indoorshttps://www.vttresearch.com/Impulse/Pages/Why-do-so-many-women-feel-chilly-indoors.aspxWhy do so many women feel chilly indoors
Transport gets smarthttps://www.vttresearch.com/Impulse/Pages/Transport-gets-smart.aspxTransport gets smart
At the digital forefront of mininghttps://www.vttresearch.com/Impulse/Pages/At-the-digital-forefront-of-mining.aspxAt the digital forefront of mining
Sustainability and acceptability for mining operationshttps://www.vttresearch.com/Impulse/Pages/Sustainability-and-acceptability-for-mining-operations.aspxSustainability and acceptability for mining operations
Business for transportationhttps://www.vttresearch.com/Impulse/Pages/Business-for-transportation.aspxBusiness for transportation
Finnish fuel cell technology aims for the worldhttps://www.vttresearch.com/Impulse/Pages/Finnish-fuel-cell-technology-aims-for-the-world.aspxFinnish fuel cell technology aims for the world
Converting rags to design clotheshttps://www.vttresearch.com/Impulse/Pages/Converting-rags-to-design-clothes.aspxConverting rags to design clothes
How to become a leading country in flexible energy production systemshttps://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