This driverless tractor will haunt your dreams of the robot uprising

This driverless tractor will haunt your dreams of the robot uprising

Firstgreen Industries is calling its new Elise CBL the world’s first cabinless, remotely operated electric skid steer. We just don’t want to make it mad.

With all the news about AI, humanoid robots, and the rapidly approaching singularity in recent months, it would probably be weirder if you haven’t been thinking about the robot uprising. For those of you that have (the normals), allow me to introduce a thing you didn’t even know you needed to worry about: meet the Elise Clean Building Logistics. “CBL,” for short.

Designed be Firstgreen Industries (formerly Kovaco Electric), the Elise CBL is designed to enable fully remote operation, thereby reducing the risk of operator injury or exposure to hazardous materials in high-risk environments like indoor demolition in older buildings (asbestos), hospitals (biohazards and radiation), and more (more bad stuff). And, because it’s electric, it can do so without adding diesel exhaust emissions, themselves a known carcinogen, to the list of hazards faced by its operators.

As for the Elise itself, it can be outfitted your choice of 240Ah or 400 Ah lead-acid batteries, or 300 Ah or 420 Ah li-ion batteries powering three independent electric motors (two for the drivetrain and one for the hydraulics). And, while you could charge the Elise back up to full in about 3 hours (on the li-ion batteries), you could also go from zero to hero in under five minutes … with a battery swap.

“This (battery swap) process takes 5 minutes, and it is recommended for lead-acid batteries, which are not that expensive,” said Jan Otta, project manager at Firstgreen Industries. “It makes sense to buy a set of two. It’s a solution that is widely used in mining in Chile.”

All of which sounds perfectly reasonable … until you see the thing hooked up to a 6′ grapple bucket and realize the guys in Vegas would give it decent odds against a T-800.

No, thanks

“The new model will take indoor and underground excavation to a new level. With a fully remote-controlled, full-sized skid steer at your command, your on-site safety record, workload, and time have been completely reimagined,” explains Ken Pederson, a sales manager at Evolution Mechanical and authorized Firstgreen Industries distributor. “With zero emissions, this unit is the only working model in the industry that does not require ventilation for your onsite workforce. Safety, functionality, and cost-effectiveness.”

The Elise CBL can programmed using a hard-mounted display or, operated using an iOS or Android app, giving operators a clear line of sight from up to 164′ away, keeping them well out of harm’s way. Firstgreen says teleoperation over 5G (which will make it easier for AIs to control it during the robot uprising) will be available sometime in Q2.

Electrek’s Take

We had some fun with this article, but there’s some serious stuff being discussed here. Namely, the safety of the operators.

As experienced operators become harder and harder for companies to come by, investing in technology that’s improving their working conditions and long-term health and safety isn’t just a cause that’s morally compelling — it’s good business. And the Elise CBL? It’s going to help keep a lot of operators safer than they are today.

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