New Stanley retrofit kit turns compact excavators into remote control diggers with Xbox-like controller

Updated Mar 23, 2019

Stanley Remote Control Close

Hoping to give compact excavator operators more flexibility when facing challenging work conditions or environments, tool-maker Stanley has announced a retrofit kit for compact excavators that enables easy remote control operation.

Developed by Stanley’s Infrastructure Team, the ROC, or Remote Operated Control, System can be installed on excavators under 10 tons in roughly five hours, the company says. Plus, installation requires little to no mechanical experience.

Once installed, the system allows operators to easily switch between traditional manned control and remote control modes.

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“Through research of compact equipment, we discovered occasions where operators found themselves in situations with low visibility or working on unstable ground, and we wanted to give them a better solution than sitting in the cab,” says Harry Zhong, lead engineer on Stanley’s Infrastructure Innovation team.

Once operators finds themselves in a position where remote control might make things easier or safer, they can throw the machine into remote control mode, hop out and control his or her machine with a long-range controller.

Click to enlarge.Click to enlarge.

The controller, developed in partnership with Humanistic Robotics Network, resembles the design of Microsoft’s iconic Xbox video game controller, making it easy to acclimate to.

ROC will be able to retrofit Bobcat, Caterpillar, Kubota and John Deere compact excavators.

Planned for a 2020 release, the ROC system is still in development and is undergoing beta testing in the field. Here’s how Stanley breaks down the benefits of the system found through the trials so far:

  • Visibility – With operators running equipment outside of the machine they can achieve a broader view point around the equipment and attachment as well more accurate depth perception for digging and breaking activities.
  • Safety – Removing operators from the cab will also remove them from being in harm’s way on dangerous job sites including demolition, steep banks, unstable ground and sites with toxic materials.
  • Productivity Increases – Freedom from the cab allows operators to act as their own spotter, freeing up labor for additional tasks on a jobsite.
  • Attraction of New Labor – With many young Americans identifying as video game players, adopting a remote system will attract new labor to the construction market, putting them at controls they are already familiar with and reducing the learning curve.

Stanley is also recruiting more contractors for its beta testing through Fall 2019. If you’re interested taking part, visit