Key challenges in automation of earth-moving machines

A wheel loader is an earth-moving machine used in construction sites, gravel pits and mining to move blasted rock, soil and gravel. In the presence of a nearby dump truck, the wheel loader is said to be operating in a short loading cycle. This paper concerns the moving of material (soil, gravel and fragmented rock) by a wheel loader in a short loading cycle with more emphasis on the loading step. Due to the complexity of bucket-environment interactions, even three decades of research efforts towards automation of the bucket loading operation have not yet resulted in any fully autonomous system. This paper highlights the key challenges in automation and tele-remote operation of earth-moving machines and provides a survey of different areas of research within the scope of the earth-moving operation. The survey of publications presented in this paper is conducted with an aim to highlight the previous and ongoing research work in this field with an effort to strike a balance between recent and older publications. Another goal of the survey is to identify the research areas in which knowledge essential to automate the earth moving process is lagging behind. The paper concludes by identifying the knowledge gaps to give direction to future research in this field.

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