One giant leap: Komatsu develops construction equipment for use on the moon
By Andy Brown and Jenny LescohierDecember 01, 2021
Today’s construction technology already seems out of this world at times, but it just took one giant leap: Komatsu is developing autonomous construction equipment that can operate in space.
The global construction equipment manufacturer has been selected by the Japanese government to work on producing construction equipment that could operate on the moon, and Komatsu is using digital twin technology to recreate site conditions and machines to do so.
Komatsu says digital twin technology is essential to the process and the company is conducting a feasibility study to verify the possibility of developing high-precision digital twin technology.
Komatsu will create and operate a hydraulic excavator in cyberspace, using digital twin technology, and compare its movements with actual equipment on Earth to verify the simulator’s precision.
The ongoing three-year, mid-term management plan, is scheduled to be completed in the fiscal year ending March 31, 2022.
The overall name of the project is ‘Promoting the Development of Innovative Technologies for Outer Space Autonomous Construction’ and it is lead managed by Japan’s Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism with collaboration by Japan’s Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology.
Construction crews can already digitally visualize their job sites with Komatsu’s Smart Construction Dashboard, which includes features such as progress tracking, quantity calculations and accurate 3D imaging.
Komatsu’s software suite uses IoT and near-real-time data to help customers streamline costs, optimize processes remotely, orchestrate construction planning and handle management and scheduling.
Earlier this year, Komatsu announced another tech initiative when it reported its partnership with Proterra Inc., a firm focused on commercial vehicle electrification technology, with the goal of leveraging Proterra’s battery technology for the development of Komatsu’s first battery-electric middle class hydraulic excavator.
Komatsu stated it expects to commercially produce those machines by 2023-2024. The Proterra battery system powering the electric excavator will feature high energy density and fast charging technology.