Komatsu bringing the Skycatch drones powering work at its automated Japanese jobsites to U.S.

Updated Nov 13, 2018
The Skycatch Explore1, a custom drone built for Komatsu, is at the center of the company’s new EverydayDrone surveying service in Japan. Komatsu has begun selling the drone and its GNSS base station at its dealerships around the world.The Skycatch Explore1, a custom drone built for Komatsu, is at the center of the company’s new EverydayDrone surveying service in Japan. Komatsu has begun selling the drone and its GNSS base station at its dealerships around the world.

U.S. customers will soon be able to purchase the same custom drones built for Komatsu’s fully-automated site prep service currently running in Japan, here in the States.

Komatsu and drone software company Skycatch have announced that the Skycatch Explore1 high precision RTK drone and the Edge1 GNSS base station are now for sale around the world through Komatsu dealers. The drone, built by DJI on that manufacturer’s Matrice 100 enterprise platform, features a piloting and positioning system created by Skycatch.

In Japan, under the banner of its Smart Construction platform, Komatsu runs machines equipped with fully-integrated GPS/GNSS machine control in full-auto with little assistance or interference by operators, using site data provided by the Explore1 drones and 3D laser scanners. Since the launch, the service has grown quickly and has been used on more than 5,500 Japanese jobsites. The Japanese service has added 1,500 jobsites in the past seven months alone, and recently launched a new option called EverydayDrone for those customers who only require drone surveys.

You can read more about Smart Construction and how the U.S. arm of that service, currently focused on semi-autonomous machine control, is gradually reaching parity with its Japanese counterpart in our two-part series, by clicking here.

The Skycatch Explore1 drones generate sub-5-cm accurate 3D site survey data that at one time took survey crews a whole day to compile, in about 30 minutes, Komatsu says. The drones survey sites by capturing photographic data in flight before landing and transferring that data to an Edge1 RTK base station. The Edge1 is a “powerful ruggedized computer” that processes the images captured by the drones into precise 3D models.

With how the Explore1 drone and Edge1 base station work together, you don’t need to setup Ground Control Points in order for the drone to find its way around the survey area. The other advantage of these Edge base stations is that they don’t depend on a wireless internet connection and can perform their task in any location.

For those customers who already have a DJI drone, Christian Sanz, founder and CEO of Skycatch, says the Edge1 can work with any DJI drone.

“Skycatch and Komatsu offer a unique opportunity for the precision drone customer. Not only do we provide a full solution, but we also offer a product that can seamlessly fit on to any job site. The Edge1 has been optimized to work with any DJI drone, most recently with the Phantom 4RTK. We believe everyone should be able to experience a streamlined GCP free workflow no matter what drone you have,” said Christian Sanz, Founder, and CEO of Skycatch.

“The introduction of Explore1 and Edge1 have already revolutionized the Japanese market, and we are excited to share this technology with all Komatsu distributors globally,” says Chikashi Shike, president of the Smart Construction promoation division at Komatsu. “Edge1 accuracy and powerful in-field aerial analytics will become the center of automation for all future job sites, especially in North America.”