Komatsu had been experimenting with autonomous dump trucks, bulldozers, and excavators, but they lacked the ability to see and understand the environment around them with enough precision to be useful on their own. Komatsu would use teams of human surveyors to create extremely detailed maps of the job site, a process that left a lot of room for improvement.
“Because the terrain survey could not be conducted with high accuracy, what results in many sites is a 20 to 30 percent margin of error in soil volume after the construction is complete,” says Chikashi Shike, an executive with Komatsu’s Smart Construction division. With Skycatch drones, Komatsu says it has dramatically reduced that margin of error while dramatically cutting the time it takes to complete a sitemap.
“With the former, traditional method, it takes about two weeks, on average, to survey a certain piece of land,” says Kenishi Nishihara, a project manager with the Smart Construction division. “Meanwhile with Skycatch it can be completely down within one day, or even 30 minutes.
This is by now a long running story that has moved from concept to proof point. Skycatch’s comments about why they are focusing on the Japanese market are also revealing.
And don’t miss the video – the word camp leaps to mind but it is also a great overview of the impact this approach will have.