Komatsu and AgJunction have are partnering in a project designed to automate the operation of multiple off-highway trucks on construction sites.
The two companies will use what Komatsu is calling "Digital Transformation Smartconstruction" or DX Smartconstruction to examine how multiple automated trucks can flexibly respond to different work conditions. First fruits of the joint project are expected to be unveiled in Japan within the next two years.
The challenges to effectively using automation in the ever-changing construction environment are many, Komatsu notes. Loading, dumping and haul routes frequently change and the trucks must find their way around workers, other equipment and materials.
The partnership will combine AgJunction's general-purpose automation kit, which enables real-time obstacle detection and avoidance, with Komatsu's planned automation-compatible dump trucks. The two companies say they will take advantage of Komatsu's DX Smartconstruction platform, which provides truck operating instructions that respond to position information and downloaded construction plans. This joint effort is also designed to cut both fuel consumption and CO2 emissions by using optimal truck deployment and haul routes.
AgJunction, located in Scottsdale, Arizona, previously integrated customized autosteering systems for Komatsu's construction equipment used in agricultural markets. AgJunction currently provides automation modules that support mapping, path planning and autosteering for these machines.
The two companies will work together to provide automated operations for construction sites that build on AgJunction's Novariant division's proprietary autosteering, connectivity and sensor fusion technology. During the first phase, the partnership will develop a proof-of-concept system to showcase safe operations using Noviariant's advanced obstacle detection and avoidance algorithms.
“After the successful integration of the customized autosteering, we look forward to continuing our collaboration with Novariant in developing an automated system capable of being integrated on multiple vehicle platforms for construction workplaces,” says Yuichi Iwamoto, Komatsu chief technology officer. “Automated operation of multiple dump trucks is required to achieve safe, highly-productive, smart and clean workplaces of the future.”