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Yanmar teams with space agency on futuristic electric excavator design

Enhanced force control improves ability for finer movement

An electric work machine prototype
Yanmar's prototype electric work machine Yanmar

Yanmar Holdings has unveiled a prototype electric work machine that utilizes advanced force control. The prototype was unveiled at the Japanese Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport, and Tourism's 2023 Construction DX Challenge.

Yanmar developed the prototype electric work machine with the JAXA Space Exploration Innovation Hub Center. It utilizes a large SEA (series elastic actuator) which was under development for a next-generation work machine under the Moonshot Research and Development Program. The Moonshot program encourages new and disruptive R&D projects as a way to encourage greater innovation to solve societal challenges both within Japan and worldwide.

Yanmar HD implemented force control capabilities in the electric work machine. Yanmar says that force control capabilities are a challenge to implement in conventional hydraulic systems. Using the SEA composed of an electric motor, reducer, and spring, the functionality was implemented in an electric mini excavator. The SEA technology can realize an expanded range of motion through the adoption of joint motors.

This technology aims to automate fine manual tasks and help address labour shortages at construction sites. Moving forward, Yanmar will conduct further verification to realize the practical applications of next-generation work machines in construction sites and similar environments.

Features of Yanmar's prototype electric work machine

  • Test development of force control function using a large SEA that can be mounted on construction machinery.
  • Development of a prototype incorporating this technology into a mini excavator as part of the Moonshot Research and Development Program.
  • Mechanization of delicate work in civil and construction sites, contributing to the labour-saving of material placement operations.
  • Implementation of an articulated motor, not a conventional electric cylinder, to expand the range of motion through electrification, enabling overhead work like ceiling operations.

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