Komatsu developing proof-of-concept to automate dump trucks


Komatsu and AgJunction have begun a joint proof of concept (PoC) to achieve automated operation of multiple dump trucks on construction workplaces.

By combining information of different work processes surrounding dump trucks in operation through full use of Digital Transformation SmartConstruction, the two parties will achieve automated operation of multiple dump trucks, responding flexibly to different work conditions. They are working to introduce this service to Japan in 2022 or 2023.

Construction workplaces are known for high variability accompanied by work progress, as represented by frequent changes of loading and dumping areas as well as hauling routes of dump trucks. They will also need to travel by avoiding movement of workers, carrying in/out of materials, and other construction equipment. To introduce automated operation of dump trucks to such construction workplaces, the two parties will combine the general-purpose automation kit, developed by AgJunction, which enables real-time obstacle detection and avoidance for the dump trucks, and automation-compatible dump trucks to be developed by Komatsu.

They will also take full technological advantage of operating instruction of dump trucks to respond to position information and construction plans of Digital Transformation SmartConstruction, thereby ensuring advanced recognition and sharing of information concerning the surrounding environs and flexible control of multiple vehicles, according to onsite conditions, and enabling automated operation of multiple dump trucks which travel between loading and dumping areas. Furthermore, they expect to cut down fuel consumption and CO2 emissions by controlling optimal vehicle deployment and haul routes.

To solve customers’ workplaces problems, Komatsu needs technologies of not only “products” (level of automation and sophistication of construction equipment), but also of “processes” (optimisation level of construction operations), designed to optimise whole workplaces operations, such as improved safety of the entire workplaces, streamlined construction work, visualization of daily work, and real-time reassessment of construction plans in response to external factors, such as weather.

For construction and the civil engineering workplaces, Komatsu launched the world’s first ICT-intensive bulldozer as its “products” in 2013. In 2017, it embarked on the development of remote control system. And most recently in May 2021, Komatsu successfully performed the remotely controlled verification test of continuous soil discharge to its mobile soil recycler by improving automated loading control, as well as switching the use of multiple construction equipment units. In terms of “processes”, Komatsu launched Digital Transformation SmartConstruction, in 2015, and began to introduce DX Digital Transformation SmartConstruction, in April 2020, achieving not only “vertical digitalization” of partial production processes of construction, but also working to optimize construction by “horizontal digitalisation” which connects all construction processes.

By continuing to achieve digital transformation of construction with “products” (level of automation and sophistication of construction equipment) and processes (optimization level of construction operations), together with customers, Komatsu is working to realize safe, highly productive, smart, and clean construction workplaces of the future.

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Saul Wordsworth is deputy editor of the iVT brand - which includes digital and print editions of a quarterly magazine and Off-Highway Annual, as well as He is a keen cyclist and lives in north London.

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