Winner of the bauma Innovation Award 2013 – The Wirtgen AutoPilot Field Rover revolutionizes road construction
As the leading manufacturer of road construction machinery, Wirtgen GmbH is renowned for its pioneering technologies and innovations. With the Wirtgen AutoPilot Field Rover, the company has now launched a technical development that for the first time enables fully automatic, stringline-free concrete paving. This system will enable road construction companies to complete jobs much more easily, quickly and, above all, economically. The jury of the bauma Innovation Award 2013 also deemed the AutoPilot Field Rover a pioneering development, and awarded it the bauma Innovation Award 2013 in the "Machinery Component" category.
When monolithic profiles such as concrete safety barriers or curbs are paved today, digital terrain models are created and so-called stringlines are secured in the ground along the profile. During paving, these are used by the machine for orientation purposes – a very time-consuming method.
Fully automatic paving with the AutoPilot
Paving is much quicker with the Wirtgen AutoPilot. The 3D control system comprises a computer that is integrated in the machine and an intuitive control panel. Two GPS receivers mounted on the machine communicate with a GPS reference station on the job site. A digital terrain model is not required, as surveying and programming is carried out on the spot.
Conventional stringline-free 3D-systems currently available on the market can only be operated by personnel trained in surveying, while the AutoPilot Field Rover is designed for simple operation by the machine operator, rendering special training unnecessary.
AutoPilot Field Rover: Stringlines are a thing of the past
But what happens if a hydrant is positioned incorrectly or a gully is located 10 cm away from its marked site? With the traditional stringline method, the user modifies the line on the job site. This is also poses no problem for the Field Rover. The Field Rover comprises a GNSS receiver and a data collector on which the software developed by Wirtgen is installed. As during normal survey work, the section to be paved is staked out with a plumb rod and individual measuring points defined. The highlight of the Field Rover is that the software calculates the optimum course on the basis of the measured points, creating a virtual stringline, so to speak. The data are saved on a USB stick that is then simply connected to the machine. It is not necessary for the operator to enter any additional data by hand. The Wirtgen slipform paver then automatically moves to the starting point calculated during the survey, and from there moves along the defined course.
If the concrete profile is to be paved up to existing roadway edges, the user can calculate the optimum virtual stringline within minutes. For the first time ever, it is now truly possible to eliminate the conventional stringline in practical applications.
Road construction companies stand to benefit in many ways – for example the Field Rover lowers paving costs considerably in comparison to conventional methods. As it bases its calculations on the actual job site measurements and does not rely on construction drawings, it achieves a higher degree of paving accuracy and quality. In addition, the slipform paver can automatically negotiate obstacles. Apart from enhancing safety on the job site, this feature also brings further cost reductions, as machine damage that frequently occurs when the machine drives over obstacles is effectively eliminated.
With the AutoPilot Field Rover, Wirtgen is introducing 3D technology for everyone. The price of the system is significantly lower than that of existing 3D systems, as the Wirtgen system is optimally integrated in the machine and optimized for the respective application. What's more, this ingenious tool is very easy to use, so that there is no need to consult a survey technician.