Sealed-System Bucket Loader Cleans Messes In Dangerous Places


Cleaning up after a disaster is hard and dangerous. But the ROEBL project is trying to make it substantially safer by removing the human operator from harm’s way. The Remote Operated Electric Bucket Loader had a big double-fenced, cement barrier play area set up at Maker Faire and [Justin Gray] walked us through the project which concluded with a demonstration of the hardware.

For now the operator does need to be on site to see what the loader is doing, but a first-person video setup is planned for the future. Still, removing the operator from the jarring experience of riding inside is an improvement. And the sealed nature of the electric and hydraulic systems mean that it can operate in areas inundated with liquids like water or oil.

The video above has a 90 second demonstration at the end (while we all laugh like children at what really was a giddy display of power being thrown about by a handheld controller). The ROEBL website has a gallery where you can see the conversion process that started with a standard diesel machine.

23 thoughts on “Sealed-System Bucket Loader Cleans Messes In Dangerous Places

  1. This guy really has something here. I’m sure it isn’t the first time someone thought of it, but this shows the practical use. After something like a nuclear meltdown, this would be indespensible. Throw the brains of this into a heavy machine for the logging industry and get the FPV going. Save downtime with injuries and save lives.

  2. The Norwegians have been using remote control for several years now for work like turning the military testing areas back to the nature, a video of a excavator and dump truck here, a D10 dozer is a simple machine compared to a full featured excavator.. :P (it is in Norwegian BTW)

  3. While one would think there would be a market for such a machine, for some reason there doesn’t seem to be one.

    If there were, the Hughes Aircraft Mobot systems, or the GE ManMate (Ralph Mosher) – both systems from the 1960s – would be fairly common.

    The Mobot system especially was originally designed for operation in dangerous environments, with a full remote control console. In most (all?) demonstrations, it was tethered to the console by a long cable, but the documentation on the system clearly indicates that the engineers and company envisioned radio-control operation.

    Perhaps this time, the world markets will be more receptive?

    1. Remotes for cranes are very popular. Often it is easier to operate near the load than the base. I believe that is the issue. Why have a dedicated remote machine when you can add a modular system to existing equipment?

      I have even seen some fancy add-ons that use GPS and (uncommon, usually very unreliable) 3D maps to tell excavator operators how far away they are to buried features. Fantastic tech, when it works.

  4. What a great machine! Although I can’t help be a little dissapointed about the potential that has been missed here: This type of skid steer loader are known actually very difficult to operate smoothly (even when you are sitting in them) due to the short wheelbase and eccentric load (full bucket). Implementing a control system with accelerometer/gyro feedback could potentially elimiate the wheel-standing and bouncing seen in the video. Quite an advantage if you are trying to scoop up toxic goo and you don’t want to spill any…

  5. Russia did it first with Lunokhod, then took some old 70’s Lunokhod hardware out of storage and modded a mini bucket loader/dozer to help clean up Chernobyl.

    And watch “Tank on the Moon” Great documentary on the subject.
    One of the key things they worked out during the Chernobyl work was that the radiation was so bad that over time, the electronics degraded to the point of becoming unusable. 11 months on the moon with no problem, barely 5 on meltdownland. It is actually quite difficult to harden against all forms of toxic hazards.

    Fun toy no doubt.

    Oh.. and I was working at a CAT proving ground when the Robo D10 prototypes were being put together and tested. a bit scary for the test driver to take his hands off the controls, set the auto mode and wait for the machine to crash right into a dump truck, drive off a cliff or run over someone’s car.

    1. Having seen a documentary on the robot’s use in chernobyl yesterday, I shall provide you with the link: Footage from clearing the reactor’s roof, including the (then broken) robot and so-called bio-robots (soldiers with lead mantles) towing it back.
      That vid says the robot failed because the radiation levels it was designed for were simply underestimated for a nuclear disaster.

  6. Wait until you get one computer to control 5 or 10 of this machines simultaneously, and you can have a hardcore party.. or lets say, quit all your employees since you don’t need them anymore..

    Not saying it’s bad, but…

  7. Thanks everyone for checking out our project! The feedback is great, I have worked on this silently in my shop for over 2 years now, our concept is utilitarian based and endlessly expandable.The over all concept (remote operated equipment) is very old, our twist is what is unique: direct electric thus NO hydrostatics, all RC and entirely sealed requiring no breathing air for a diesel or human. Our EV drive systems use CAN buss and we plan on adding automation and accelerometer based stabilization for ultra precise control along with FPV. check out the vid:
    and check out our website:
    Justin Gray at Graywrx Fab.

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