Komatsu Ltd. and NVIDIA Corporation are partnering to improve the safety and productivity of construction jobsite operations by introducing AI. The announcement was made during Huang’s keynote speech at GTC Japan, an NVIDIA-sponsored GPU Technology Conference held in Tokyo on December 13, 2017.
Challenges of the construction industry
Japan’s construction industry is facing a challenge of serious labor shortages, mainly resulting from aging and decreasing skilled workers. Of the 3.4 million skilled workers (as of 2014), it is estimated that about 1.1 million skilled workers, or one-third, will most likely leave the industry in the next decade.
In response to this challenge, Komatsu has engaged in its SMARTCONSTRUCTION business since 2015 by connecting information related to jobsite workers and objects, such as construction machines and earth, through ICT, thereby improving jobsite safety and productivity. Komatsu has deployed the SMARTCONSTRUCTION business in more than 4,000 construction sites in Japan on a cumulative basis. Komatsu is planning to introduce this business around the world in the future.
Expanding the SMARTCONSTRUCTION business with AI
Komatsu is going to introduce NVIDIA GPUs to SMARTCONSTRUCTION jobsites. The GPUs will communicate with drones from Skycatch, Inc., a Komatsu partner, which will collect 3D images, generate terrain data and “visualize” site conditions. Working with NVIDIA, OPTiM Corp., another Komatsu partner and IoT-management software company, will provide an application to correlate terrain data to jobsite workers and construction machines for visualization.
At the center of this collaboration is NVIDIA® Jetson™ AI platform for computing at the edge. When Jetson, which works with NVIDIA’s cloud technology, is installed in construction machines, it will be able to provide 360-degree images, enabling prompt recognition of workers and other machines nearby, thereby preventing dangerous contacts and collisions.
Jetson will also be used with the stereo cameras installed in the cabs of construction equipment, and will recognize continuously changing jobsite conditions on a real-time basis, to better provide accurate instructions to machine operators. Future plans call for use not only for automatic control of devices, but also for high-resolution rendering and virtual simulation of construction and quarry jobsite operations.
By utilizing NVIDIA’s technologies and expertise in imaging processing, virtual simulation and AI, Komatsu will further promote the SMARTCONSTRUCTION business and accelerate the pace of achieving “construction jobsites of the future”.