OT: Drive your John Deere From the Bucket
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  1. #1
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    Default OT: Drive your John Deere From the Bucket

    Here’s the latest studio job I’ve been working on:

    Squirrel, the shop cat, is weighing in here.

    The job is to remote-drive a John Deere 310A excavator.

    Background: the excavator is for a chase scene in a film I’m working on. As there will be A-list actors and stunt personnel on and around the machine the decision was made to give driving controls to a precision driver and let the actors act and the stunties stunt. Typically this decision is made when the insurance underwriters decide it’s too dangerous for personnel to let the actor drive AND act at the same time.

    We’ve done a number of these units on cars… basically you mount the remote drive “pod” and figure out how to actuate the steering, brakes and accelerator. Definitely an “any port in a storm” kind of job… whatever works becomes the “right” way to do the job. This is one of the few places where new cars and their electronic compliments actually make the job easier. Drive by wire just means extending the factory pedal-harness and mounting the pedal in the remote drive. Brakes can be done any number of ways, tap into the factory, boosted brakes, push on the factory brake pedal, again, any port in a storm. Steering is typically a hydraulic boat steering sector, generally we order a new steering shaft and cut and splice the boat unit into the shaft.

    This one was a little different… hydraulic steering and a rented piece of equipment that HAS to be restored after the shot is done.

    Additionally, the steering shaft on the excavator is maybe a foot with no room to hide lines or our usual steering box, gearbox, nothing. So, the decision was made to “mirror” the excavators steering system at the pod.

    Here’s the remote drive pod steering sector:



    Identical to the factory steering box:


    A series of 3-way ball valves direct steering hydraulics to whatever end needs them:


    All handles up sends fluid to the remote drive, handles facing west sends fluid to the factory box.

    Brakes from the remote drive just push on the factory brake:

    The actor can still mash the brakes in case of “oh shit”..

    All other controls are in the hands of the precision driver:

    The covered switch is main power, momentary in the center is the starter button and then parking brake as labeled.


    The harness for the FWD/NEUTRAL/REV switch was extended so the pod driver has those controls as well.

    All the actor needs to do is hold on and remember his lines.

    Anyhow, just figured this might interest some of you out there.




    Be safe




    Jeremy

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    Is that a sprint-car chassis for the remote driver?

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    Let's not stop with the film. Just think with a radio receiver, the excavator could be programed from a computer and no operator required.

    Tom

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    You work on some fun stuff, Mr. Being 'movie' related, I'm betting there is a wide open budget which adds to the 'fun'. Thank you for sharing.

    Stuart

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    Quote Originally Posted by atomarc View Post
    You work on some fun stuff, Mr. Being 'movie' related, I'm betting there is a wide open budget which adds to the 'fun'. Thank you for sharing.

    Stuart
    I did some cars for Miami Vice, they damn sure had a budget!!!! Tightwads they were!

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    Sorry but not quite Tom. A standard computer just isn't capable of operating one of these machines on a day to day / whatever the hell comes up during normal and highly variable situations. AI more advanced and more specifically far cheaper than we currently have then maybe. It's those constantly changing variables that make it so tough. I've run almost everything in an open pit mine for roughly 40 years including these backhoes, excavators etc. Visualize almost every material on earth you want to cut with an end mill that could be in widely changing combinations and sizes and in one way or another that's sort of comparable to what a human operator will deal with at some point. Everything from mud to rock so large or hard you can't dig it. It might be just possible to do with today's technology, but at a cost far higher than any operator will over the life of the machine. For some jobs humans are still cheaper than what the programming and AI technology would be. Yes that will likely go down in cost enough to make it practical at some point. Thankfully I won't see it because I'd never want to work anywhere close to an AI controlled machine. It's not if electronics will fail, it's only how long until they do.

    Just look at what the military parts replacement costs are on an average fighter jet per hr. of flight. Even they can't get the long term durability of complex electrical components with pretty much an unlimited budget. And these machines are in environment conditions no aircraft comes close to seeing. Cat and a few others have been running autonomous mining haul trucks for a number of years, but in comparison that's pretty easy. Blast hole drills will likely be the next in line for that autonomous control because again it's not all that complicated, and feedback for changing ground conditions just needs the down feed pressures and rpm adjusted. I still don't think the haul trucks being autonomous is anywhere close to being as cost effective as there sales B.S. likes to indicate. Just like any big industry, the big three for costs in mining today are all energy related. Fuel, electrical power and explosives. Wages are a fraction of those costs and it's the management from the front line shift boss to the CEO that accounts for a large percentage of those costs anyway.

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    This is more suited for over at heavyequipmentforums.com

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    My 4 year old wants you to know that is a Backhoe, not an Excavator.

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    Quote Originally Posted by atomarc View Post
    You work on some fun stuff, Mr. Being 'movie' related, I'm betting there is a wide open budget which adds to the 'fun'. Thank you for sharing.

    Stuart
    Sometimes the budgets are wide open… I worked on Fast and Furious 7,8 and Hobbes and Shaw. Those producers are certain there is not a problem that cannot be solved by throwing money at it.

    Physics cannot be purchased.

    For this project the budget isn’t super great. 25 man-days, roughly, plus materials. Problem is those man-hours couldn’t start before the machine was dropped off last Monday. It’s scheduled to shoot 10/4, but there’s plenty of people that will need to get their time with the machine once we’re done.

    I expect to ship the machine either tomorrow afternoon or Monday morning early.

    Quote Originally Posted by David_M View Post
    Is that a sprint-car chassis for the remote driver?
    Not really… it was specifically built for this application. Similar concept though. Basically just a fully enclosed driver “pod”.

    A lot of the pods wind up mounted on the roof. I’ve never seen a pod pull a car over, but I imagine it could happen.

    One of my favorite remote drives I’ve worked on was a Nissan 350/370 Z. We pulled off the rear hatch and shoved the pod in the “trunk”. Whatever model Z it was it WAS a drive-by-wire throttle, so accelerator was EASY.

    Rube Goldberg would’ve been PROUD of the steering on that Z though. The remote steering was completely manual to the factory steering box… keyed 3/4” shaft, universal joints and a “t” transmission.

    The shaft ran straight from the pod steering wheel to a bearing followed by a universal…
    down the side of the drivers seat…
    along the transmission tunnel…
    Up into the footwell… and
    Into the gearbox.

    That car had no business working as well as it did! The steering had every reason and right to bind, but it didn’t!!!

    It was actually a lot of fun to drive the Z remotely. Even with no ballast in the seats the pod didn’t upset the balance of the car terribly and the the mounting of the pod allowed perfect sight of the front end.

    Quote Originally Posted by Garwood View Post
    My 4 year old wants you to know that is a Backhoe, not an Excavator.
    This is literally my first experience with “heavy” equipment that isn’t a forklift. I guess my five year old was having too much fun to correct me:


    This is right before he scared himself real good and learned about how to use the outriggers.





    Be safe



    Jeremy

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    Ref #6. My reply was tongue in cheek.

    Tom

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    Quote Originally Posted by jermfab View Post
    This is right before he scared himself real good and learned about how to use the outriggers.
    Yes, outriggers down. And watch out for those overhead wires!

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    Could have used a set up like on top of the roll bar a couple of times. This summer I needed to shred a straight from the outside of a circle to the center pivot control tower though sorghum allium that was 12 foot tall. Even standing up I could not see the tower just had to guess where it was. Hot wire was a little crooked but the cows were happy to get in to the tall sweet grass.
    Shredding blood weed can be worse it sometimes gets 14 feet tall.

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    Quote Originally Posted by digger doug View Post
    This is more suited for over at heavyequipmentforums.com

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    So, the driver pod is in the bucket? (Appears that way in one shot, but another shot looks to be beside the backhoe)
    Last edited by DrHook; 09-24-2021 at 11:12 AM. Reason: quit typing before I was done thinking :)

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    I'm tellin' ya.... self anointed conservator of electrons.

    Quote Originally Posted by TeachMePlease View Post

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    It's hard to tell just what this is doing without a photo that shows proper perspective. The thing is, baby, film making is all about the shot. The frame.

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    It is all about the shot.

    It’s my understanding that most of the shots on the remote drive will be from the front of the vehicle looking back.

    I know there’s a camera mount I have to make that will sit on the engine shroud. They may do some chase car work as well.

    Yes, all of the actual driving is done from the bucket. The steering wheel in the tractor cab will be a dummy.

    My apologies, this is one of those days things where I wish this site hosted videos.

    Here’s a couple screen grabs of my boss taking the rig for a spin:








    Be safe




    Jeremy

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    Quote Originally Posted by DrHook View Post
    So, the driver pod is in the bucket? (Appears that way in one shot, but another shot looks to be beside the backhoe)
    Yeah… that was the pics I took as I was locking up last night. There’s actually two backhoes, I think that’s where the confusion comes from.

    The other machine just came for us to install the fenders we built for both machines.

    Another screen grab from a video:

    We also had to make three sets of these Mad Max fenders: one for the hero, one for the stunt machine and one for the remote drive.




    Be safe



    Jeremy

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    Quote Originally Posted by TeachMePlease View Post
    Also, I don't like nobody touching me. Now, any of you homos touch me, and I'll kill you.

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    Hook those controls to the internet, add a camera and then you can outsource a heavy equipment operator job to China.


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