Remote operation

A drone is hovering between two rows of plants, monitoring the crops

Remotely-operated machinery can be used to perform work in locations that are dangerous or inaccessible to people. VTT develops remote operation solutions that have applications ranging from surgery to mining, and from agriculture to space research.

Key facts

Remote operation has potential applications ranging from surgery to space research.

Remote operation promises to make work safer and more enjoyable in the future.

VTT has developed remote operation solutions relating, among other things, to autonomous devices and remote-control cranes.

In the old days, miners carried a caged canary with them: the bird’s demise provided a warning of dangerous levels of toxic gases and allowed the miners to return to the surface in time. Today, workers no longer need to be exposed to danger, and instead operations in hostile environments can be performed by robots that workers monitor and control remotely. Remote operation eliminates hazards such as lack of oxygen, dust, vibration and radioactivity. Some locations are physically impossible to reach: the Mars rover, for example, is manoeuvred by engineers on Earth. This is known as remote operation.

Possibilities limited only by imagination

Camera and sensor technology as well as information networks are becoming more and more sophisticated all the time. This is why new remote operation applications are constantly being devised in numerous different sectors. Surgical operations, for example, can now be performed using a controller similar to those used to play video games.  

Remote operation promises to revolutionise the concept of work. 

There are already commercial versions of robotic lorries and tractors operating in confined areas such as mines and farms. However, close human control is vital, and the prospect of introducing robots into human environments brings new challenges.

In the future, ships could sail without any crew on board – with office-based controllers monitoring and making route choices remotely. This would make sailors’ work more enjoyable, as they could go home at the end of the working day.

Developing remote operation with VTT

VTT develops both technologies and operating concepts for remote operation, combining its extensive technological know-how and understanding of user interfaces and labour research. Operating concept design refers to designing each new device for a specific purpose and for a specific kind of interface. We have technological expertise in, for example, 5G networks, calibration, structural simulation, control systems, object recognition and mechanical system design.

VTT’s researchers have studied and developed remote operation solutions relating, among other things, to autonomous devices, surgical instruments, remote-control cranes and drones as well as virtual environments. We can also help with business model development and safety assurance.

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