Remember the remote-control truck you had as a kid? You could barge into the sand box, toggle your way back out, crash unexpectedly and reverse just as quickly, all while staying out of harm’s way. Today, construction workers have the option to use remote-control equipment from outside the cab, so they can do dangerous work more safely and efficiently.
The latest advancement in these wireless technologies is a collaboration between Caterpillar and TORC Robotics known as RemoteTask. Made available for purchase in North America this month, the remote-control system operates several Cat machines from up to 1,000 feet away.
RemoteTask provides a health benefit by giving workers the opportunity to stand up and walk around, rather than sitting in a vehicle’s cab for hours on end. But the biggest benefit is that it can prevent injuries by removing the operator from the machine while keeping control in their hands.
It’s important to note that remote-control vehicles could give operators a false sense of safety. But there are several types of accidents that would be less damaging to the operator if the driver is not in the cab. The most common hazard is toppling over while working around trenches or on a steep slope. There’s also the danger of a load-bearing wall falling on a vehicle working in a trench or inside a room. Falling debris, materials or infrastructure such as concrete slabs or steel beams could also crush the cab, killing or badly injuring the driver.
Approximately 100 employees are fatally injured and approximately 95,000 employees are injured every year while operating powered industrial trucks according to OSHA.