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Hercules

Hercules overcomes the inefficiency of the traditional excavator with an integrated excavation process that incorporates a rotary cutting head and continuous soil removal. The soil is transferred to the receiving vehicle through a combination of augers and a discharging conveyor belt.

Design

Selin Koşağan, Turkey,
Chi Liu, China, 
Danny Mc Elchar, Ireland, 
Apostolos Papamatthaiakis, Greece, 
Rahil Rupawala, India

Hercules is an innovative excavator design that overcomes the inefficiencies of existing excavators. It uses the principle of continuous rotary cutting and soil extraction, and eliminates the energy-wasting dead cycles. These dead cycles (during which the excavator boom needs to be swung to dump the soil and returned again) are an innately inefficient part of traditional excavator operation. The move to a continuous mode of operation eliminates these dead cycles and so confers significant efficiency, energy and time savings.

The excavation process begins with a cutting head that rotates and moves in three dimensions. The soil is drawn inward by the cutting blades and transferred through the booms via internal augers. Finally a conveyor belt transfers the soil to the receiving vehicle at the rear end of the excavator.

Increased efficiencies are achieved through a combination of continuous operation and by the use of a hybrid power source. Hercules utilises a plug-in hybrid electric system in conjunction with a conventional engine. Batteries store energy from the engine that would otherwise go to waste, and these can also be charged through the grid with a renewable source of energy.

An all-electric system of actuators and motors reduces the maintenance cost and increases the efficiency compared to high-pressure hydraulic equivalents, as the power is only consumed when it is necessary. Indeed, there is no need for hydraulic oil at all, which in itself provides further cost and environmental benefits. Hercules also features a detachable cabin that makes operation safer. The elimination of soil transfer swing cycles makes Hercules ideal for confined-space operations. The zero tail swing feature also increases efficiency as well as safety. 

A further novel feature of the Hercules system is the use of pre-excavation ground-penetrating radar surveys. The terrain is scanned and potentially hazardous or problematic obstructions are identified and can then be safely excluded from the resulting excavation map. The intelligent control unit calculates the most efficient map of excavation and with the commencement of excavation, the cutting head follows the pre-calculated tool path in a manner similar to a CNC machine.

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