Tallinn University of Technology

Before the Independence Day of the Republic of Estonia, Tallinn University of Technology recognised the best works of the year. Second place in the Development Work of the Year was awarded to the work "Application of Virtual Reality for Controlling the Log Crane", which, in addition to traditional controlling, aims to enable controlling vehicles from the distance. 

Nutikas palgikraana

The aim of the development work is to equip a forestry trailer with remote control, which means that the machine operator uses virtual reality goggles to control the machine. A camera view of the crane and trailer jacks will be presented to the operator, who is given an overview of the most important parameters of the log crane (speeds, loads, and information regarding the system, gearbox, engine, etc.) through the user interface. 

In addition, the operator can set up and change all the important parameters through the virtual reality environment. In order to simplify the learning process, the controls of the log crane have been integrated into a traditional crane control panel.  At the touch of a button on the remote control, you can switch from traditional driving to driving in a virtual reality environment, and vice versa. The created solution is modular and it is possible to quickly integrate new solutions and adapt existing ones based on user feedback.

The control of the forestry trailer is brought into the cab of the truck or the tractor in order to reduce unnecessary movement between the truck and the trailer. This will allow the driver to load the log trailer in a safe environment – regardless of, for instance, weather conditions.

An interesting, educational and essential project

Alar Niidas, business development specialist at the Department of Mechanical and Industrial Engineering of TalTech, highly appreciates the result. "The project is interesting, essential and definitely educational for us." The easiest part of the project was creating the modules and technical solutions from scratch – including creating the user interface, connecting the camera view through the VR glasses, and switching between VR and normal control," Niidas explained.

Sven Illing, Vice-Rector for Entrepreneurship at TalTech and a member of the evaluation jury, highlighted the practical value and importance of the work, because there have not been many implementations of virtual reality solutions in the Estonian industry so far.

According to Niidas, the project was slightly slowed down by the difficult situation in the global supply chain. "For example, the need for specific cameras, which can take up to half a year to be delivered in the current situation. An additional obstacle was the software compatibility between the developed system and the crane control modules. In order to solve the problem, we involved the manufacturer of the controllers and worked out the solution in cooperation," Niidas said. 

Who was part of the development team?

The team of the work "Application of Virtual Reality for Controlling the Log Crane" consisted of Vladimir Kuts and Yevhen Bondarenko (research scientists of the Department of Mechanical and Industrial engineering), Simone Luca Pizzagalli (PhD student and junior researcher), Baris Cem Baykara (engineer) and Alar Niidas (business development specialist).

Tallinn University of Technology recognised the most outstanding scientists, research articles, and projects of the past year at a ceremony held on 22 February in celebration of the anniversary of the Republic of Estonia.