To operate construction machinery remotely, a Japanese lab designs a special space

Tokyo – The Inami/Hiyama laboratory at the University of Tokyo focuses on human augmentation technology. One of its most recent projects is a collaboration with Kobelco, a construction machinery manufacturer: the ultimate goal is to operate heavy cranes – remotely.

The machines themselves were located 800 kilometres away, and operators were able to access them via a cockpit equipped with an 8K monitor showing the job site in real time.

We installed the remote operation room in the centre, like a throne

But could spatial design improve the performance of the operators? That’s where Domino Architects came in. Yusuke Oono and his team decided to emulate the visual details of the site inside the cockpit, so as to provide the remote workers with a sense of direct spatial belonging. That meant the seat was enameled in the same signature teal shade as Kobelco’s  machines, the shelves referred to the site’s industrial materials and the wooden boards were a nod to the manufacturer’s factory.

While the lab has a meeting room, a workshop and a showroom, the remote operation room has a place of pride in the middle of it all. ‘We installed it in the centre of the room, like a throne,’ explained Oono. ‘That means people can observe [the action] while they are in different areas inside the lab.’

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