Photo: Pakutaso
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Japanese construction firms hoping to attract talent from eSports to operate machinery

16 Comments
By SoraNews24

The popularity of eSports continues to grow as many young gamers polish their skills to one day be able to compete at the professional level. But as with any competitive circuit, only a select few will ever be able to elevate themselves to levels of perpetual success. For the rest, that leaves little to fall back on with all the years of honing skills at killing Baron Nashor.

Or does it?

At the end of October, the e-Construction Machinery Challenge Competition was held in Roppongi, Tokyo. In this tournament, five teams competed at remotely piloting construction equipment from about 70 kilometers away at a training ground of the Chiba Boso Technical Center in Ichihara City, Chiba Prefecture.

▼ News report on the competition

Each team consisted of two operators and one supervisor as they piloted excavators and dump trucks to move large amounts of soil in the shortest amount of time. Teams were made up of people experienced with such equipment as well as university students and eSports competitors. In the end, the Chiba Fire Rescue team won the grand prize, but it was the addition of the eSports contestants that the organizers at the Transportation Digital Business Conference (TDBC) were really interested in.

Population decline is proving to be a challenge for the construction industry and the TDBC is taking a two-pronged approach by both making machinery operation more efficient and attractive to younger people.

During the tournament, tests were conducted to see how well conventional gamepads or joysticks used in gaming could be adapted to operating real heavy machinery such as cranes or excavators and the results were encouraging. This would suggest that a smooth transition from professional gamer to construction worker could become a fairly seamless one.

▼ The entire tournament can be viewed on YouTube and also shows the gamepad testing, but is about three hours long.

And thanks to the operation being done remotely, a single operator can work at multiple sites from a single office, making up for a shortage in available labor. The TDBC also hopes that by attracting eSports talent to the field of construction, its image as a dirty, hard, and dangerous occupation can be replaced with a cooler and more sophisticated reputation.

The thought intrigued online commenters who weren’t even involved in eSports, but there was also a lot of skepticism over whether such a marriage of gaming and construction would really work out.

“That’s a neat bridge between eSports and construction.”

“I wonder if you can work internationally as well and make a killing in an Australian mine.”

“And they let you use your own controller?!”

“That’s good because I think if you put a gamer on an actual construction site there might be problems.”

“I wonder how effective it can be online. You really have to be able to see all your surroundings to be effective.”

“I think I remember the construction industry thinking about adopting the PS gamepad a while back.”

“Heavy machinery is very dangerous and shouldn’t be treated like a game. People can die out there.”

Of course, making the move from pro-gamer to machine operator isn’t just a matter of changing chairs. The industry is currently working with the Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare on a training and licensing program because one currently doesn’t exist for remote controlled vehicles.

In addition to construction, this technology is hoped to be useful in disaster areas that are dangerous or difficult for people to enter. Rather than sending transport excavators and operators across damaged roads to an earthquake-hit area, the equipment can just be logged on to remotely and get right to work.

Sources: The Sankei NewsHachima Kiko

Read more stories from SoraNews24.

-- Want to be a professional gamer? Time to go to school!

-- Japan to open its first-ever esports gym in Tokyo, with options to pay for professional training

-- Japan finally holds an eSports event for mobile app games: Champions of Fire Japan

© SoraNews24

©2023 GPlusMedia Inc.

16 Comments
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“That’s good because I think if you put a gamer on an actual construction site there might be problems.”

Understatement of the year!

3 ( +4 / -1 )

Esports has become a plague. Want to make a living just playing video games and streaming on youtube? If every kid/teen/ college student in the block were to think like this society would collapse. Most gamers are HIKIKOMORI to begin with and have nothing else to do. I understand that they are undeducated and why they would recruit them as construction workers. Hope japan gets a grip soon.

-1 ( +5 / -6 )

SciFi is, in my view, is often a prediction of the disasters that may come following certain actions - such as this.

-2 ( +0 / -2 )

Excelente good for the gamer community..

Esports has become a plague. Want to make a living just playing video games and streaming on youtube? If every kid/teen/ college student in the block were to think like this society would collapse. Most gamers are HIKIKOMORI to begin with and have nothing else to do. I understand that they are undeducated and why they would recruit them as construction workers. Hope japan gets a grip soon.

If you don't like, how a teenager or under 30 is famous and earns more money than you and with less effort with new technologies, I am sorry for you..

But you must understand that this is the evolution of technology and how we are in a generational and technological change where only those who prepare can survive in this new and fast world..

The world is going to be more and more digitilized, whether we like it or not..

Live and let live..

2 ( +2 / -0 )

*Excellent..

Damn keyboard, lol..

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Plane pilots use computer simulation programs for training. Same can be applied to the construction industries. However, you really need the operater inside the cockpit of the vehicle to do the actual job. Only when the driver really there can he feel the movement of the vehicle, has a complete view of the environment around and responses if there is an emergency.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

I wouldn’t even recommend to let them build anything on a virtual construction site in the MetaVerse.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

There are already robot welders on construction sites working 24/7. At the Fukushima nuclear disaster site, a wide range of remote-controlled equipment is being used to achieve some outstanding results. There are many negative points about the disaster but there are also positive ones gained from it.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Population decline is proving to be a challenge for the construction industry and the TDBC is taking a two-pronged approach by both making machinery operation more efficient and attractive to younger people.

You want more workers, and get young people interested?

It's real simple.

Up the pay and benefits. The end. It's not rocket science.

And they want gamers to control heavy machinery, off site, without actual on the field experience?

GOOD LUCK

0 ( +2 / -2 )

Each team consisted of two operators and one supervisor as they piloted excavators and dump trucks to move large amounts of soil in the shortest amount of time.

I guess it makes sense for an event made to attract attention, but I don't think is the best idea to select talent to operate machinery. It feels like holding an event to find shool bus drivers and making it so the one that did the more dangerous stunts wins.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

@yoshisan88

Plane pilots use computer simulation programs for training. Same can be applied to the construction industries. However, you really need the operater inside the cockpit of the vehicle to do the actual job. Only when the driver really there can he feel the movement of the vehicle, has a complete view of the environment around and responses if there is an emergency.

Completely agree, but for example, pilots are first and foremost that: pilots or people aspiring to become pilots.

People who are e-athletes(?) or gamers or whatever are first and foremost that: e-athletes or gamers.

Not saying that the skill is not transferable but as this says...

Each team consisted of two operators and one supervisor as they piloted excavators and dump trucks to move large amounts of soil in the shortest amount of time

...this sounds like a "game", an event where you can take risks, like losing a "life" or losing by crashing your vehicle which only trashes pixels on your screen.

In real working / life conditions, you need to be able to do a job efficiently and safely, not so much in a game or e-sport.

The last thing you want on a construction / working-site is the guy controlling some heavy machinery to start taking risks / cutting corners to increase his output or finish his day early.

A change in mindset will be key for this to succeed and the above test does not exactly point into that direction, which frankly, I find worrying...

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

However, you really need the operater inside the cockpit of the vehicle to do the actual job. Only when the driver really there can he feel the movement of the vehicle, has a complete view of the environment around and responses if there is an emergency.

Make the interiors of the operators compartments on heavy equipment as much like sitting at home in front of a good gaming computer and you may have takers. Nice seat, climate control, excellent sound and vibration deadening, etc., and you could do it. I'v fooled around with a skid-steer and tried digging a clean trench with a small backhoe and both require some talent but it is not unlike gaming. With the skid-steer you are steering with your feet and operating the bucket with a joystick like hand control. The other hand is forward or reverse. The backhoe required a really deft touch. And unlike gaming when you are done at the end of the day you have something to show for it.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Gaming is probably way more satisfying than heavy machinery, breathing dust, poor pay, foul mouthed talk that goes on at a construction site.

-2 ( +0 / -2 )

I would have thought companies would prefer to be working towards automation and doing away with humans altogether.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

In addition to having the fine motor skills and knowledge to operate construction equipment, workers should also train to be physically fit to help avoid the possibility of getting injured due to the various dangers on a 'live' construction job site . . . .

0 ( +0 / -0 )

I don't think e gamers would fit in well on the building sites around the country considering the background of some of these construction companies. Bullying and harassment, yeah watch this space...

0 ( +0 / -0 )

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