Team adapts Case CX160 excavator for U.S. Navy duty digging

A specially outfitted Case CX160 excavator adapted for hazardous duty will allow the U.S. Navy to dig for unexploded ordnance and other hazardous materials at a site in Virginia — by remote control.

A team including Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, Texas-based National Instruments Corp., the Navy and Case modified the CX160 for this special assignment. The CX160 will be pressed into service at the Naval Surface Warfare Center in Dahlgren, Va., digging for ordnance at a decades-old bomb-disposal site.

“The CX160 is well suited for this unique assignment,” said Bob Weiglein, a product manager with Case Construction Equipment. “The machine’s precision hydraulics and fine controllability will be put to good use by the Navy. We’re honored that Case was the excavator of choice for this project.”

At a recent demonstration of the excavator’s new capabilities, an operator manipulated the machine’s two dual-axis joystick controls via the Internet, while seated more than 1,000 miles away from the CX160. National Instruments developed a software program called LabVIEW, which a team of Virginia Tech students modified so the excavator can be operated from a safe distance by remote control.

The excavator is scheduled to ship out to the Naval Surface Warfare Center, Dahlgren Division, in Dahlgren, Va. There the machine will be put to work digging up surplus ordnance and other hazardous materials that were buried long ago.

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