🇫🇮 Test environments for Oulu and Pyhäjärvi for the development of robotic tools and heavy drones

April 4, 2024
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A white excavator working without a pilot is digging the ground.
At the University of Oulu, remote-controlled and autonomous machines, such as this excavator, are being developed. Photo: Janne-Pekka Manninen

Test environments for the development and testing of heavy-duty robotic machines, vehicles and drones will be established in the Oulu region and Pyhäjärvi in the former mine. The internationally digitised testbeds will also support research cooperation between Europe, the US and Japan in space robotics. The testbeds will be developed at the University of Oulu.

A total of four test environments will be built for remote and swarm control of low-emission and electric robotic tools, vehicles, and drones in Oulu and Pyhäjärvi. The OuluZone area will be used for trials with a fleet of road construction machines and heavy drones. The automated machine tool fleet can be used for testing 5G and 6G networks. In Callio, Pyhäjärvi, a test environment will be built underground in a former mine. Callio will test electrically powered and automated mining machines. In Oulu, a remote-control site for machines and drones is in Linnanmaa, and a drone landing site and charging station are planned in the centre of Oulu.

“The Networked Robotics TestBeds project will develop and test new technologies and create opportunities for research and collaboration between different actors,” says Professor Rauno Heikkilä.

“The implementation of this project offers a unique opportunity to promote research and development in robotics, as well as valuable resources and opportunities for collaboration between different actors. Investing in heavy-duty drones that enable the transport of goods is significant in many respects throughout Europe and especially in North Ostrobothnia.”

The project will invest in new robotic technology for road construction machinery. In cooperation with OSAO, a training consortium, a new electrically powered and automated earthmoving vehicle, remote control equipment for the machine, a 3D hologram display and various camera and laser scanning equipment, i.e. 3D laser measurement equipment or 3D scanning equipment for the robotic machines, will be purchased for the machine fleet.

The project will serve research institutes, universities, industry, and international partners. It will support, among others, international Space Robotics research cooperation with the European and US space agencies ESA and NASA, and the Japanese space agency NAXA. The project is also involved in NASA’s Lunar Surface Innovation Consortium (LSIC), which runs a funding and research programme for mining, among other things. The Civil Engineering research unit and the Kerttu Saalasti Institute of the University of Oulu are also involved in the Multidisciplinary International Moon Assessment Group (MiMAG), a collaborative network for research and development of future smart solutions.

The total budget of the Networked Robotics TestBeds project is EUR 2.45 million, of which the EU contribution is EUR 1.6 million, and the project is funded by the University of Oulu, the City of Oulu, the City of Pyhäjärvi, VTT, OSAO, Oamk and Pyhäsalmi Kvanttikiinteistöt Oy, as well as companies. The project started at the beginning of this year and will end on 31.12.2025.

Last updated: 3.4.2024

Originally published on 3 April by University of Oulu.

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