Komatsu to Use Drones to Help Automate Digging in the US

Photo via Komatsu.

Photo via Komatsu.

Equipment manufacturer Komatsu will as early as this fiscal year roll out a service in the U.S. using drones to cut down on the labor required for excavation and earthwork on construction projects, according to a report in the Nikkei Asian Review.

The service, which goes by the name Smartconstruction, uses drones to create a detailed three-dimensional site map which is compared to a blueprint to determine how much earth needs to be moved. Komatsu construction machinery equipped with information and communications technology reads the data and automatically digs at the correct angles.

In September of last year, Komatsu announced a partnership with Skycatch, a provider of commercial drone data solutions for the construction, mining, and energy industries.

“One of the core components of Smartconstruction is survey of site conditions”, Komatsu officials said at the time. “Skycatch’s UAV-deployed site survey has proven to be a highly valuable solution for our customers due to the incredibly fast delivery of such high-precision data.”

Smartconstruction will roll out in the U.S. in stages, the Nikkei Asian Review says. The company expects clients to consist mainly of small and midsize construction companies with relatively few workers.

And Komatsu is not the only equipment manufacturer to take note of the rise of drones in the construction industry. Caterpillar in December of last year announced a partnership with Redbird, a drone analytics company currently in the process of opening a new headquarters in San Francisco.

“UAV data collection and Redbird’s image analytics capability will provide customers with a variety of solutions for their operations, such as material inventory management, haul road optimization and project progress to name a few,” John Carpenter, Caterpillar’s construction technology and solutions manager, said at the time the partnership was announced.

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