EARTHMOVING & EXCAVATION
A LEARNING EXPERIENCE
Machine learning combines with 3D grade control to add precision and speed to excavation By Lee Toop, Associate Editor
utomation is the word of the day for machine control systems, with more options for greater precision regularly becoming available. Automatic systems that take advantage of advancing technology are making life easier for operators while also improving the bottom line for owners. One challenge that contractors face with machine control, however, is that
many systems are not modular – they are designed for a certain brand of machine and can’t move from one to the next if, say, an excavator is taken off a jobsite and another is sent to take its place. Topcon recently released an update to its automated system that brings a modular design to 3D machine control, while also taking advantage of new technology to increase the precision of grading operations. The X-53x automatic excavator system introduced this year at bauma
makes it easier for operators to reach the grade they need faster and with far less stress. An update to the company’s X-52x 2D system released two years ago, the X-53x system uses the MCX1 control platform that gives it more functionality in various areas.
Modular system for multiple uses
Kris Maas, director of machine control product management with Topcon, said the company has been working for several years to develop a modular system that could be used on multiple
“All of the pieces of the puzzle have fallen together, because we are using selflearning for the first time in a control system.” Kris Maas
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platforms; the MC-X1 platform has been a key to reaching that goal. “The CPU power on that was extremely high two years ago, which means we don’t have to upgrade the system all the time – it’s future-proof. Secondly, we wanted to start working with self-learning and adapt to new technology that is coming out. People are working on autonomy and a lot of other new things. . . that was one of the requirements, to have self-learning capacity within the controller,” Maas said. “All of the pieces of the puzzle have fallen together, because we are using self-learning for the first time in a control system.” Maas said the X-53x is not only able to provide precise machine control, but it also adapts to the jobsite conditions from day to day. “If it’s in soft material one day and harder material the next day, and you’ve never done that before with that machine, the system will start learning that this is different, the valves need to react differently, and it will adapt to the situation,” he explained.