Global drone leader DJI and commercial drone data company Skycatch have scored a deal to deliver 1,000 high-precision drones to construction giant Komatsu. It’s a big step forward for the commercial application of drones. “This represents the largest commercial drone order in history,” says DJI. “Each drone is manufactured by DJI and outfitted with specialized Skycatch technology, and is the first time DJI has manufactured a custom drone for a partner.”
Komatsu has been out in front of a push to innovate in the construction sector. Far beyond dump-trucks and excavators, Komatsu is developing unmanned and autonomous vehicles for remote operation in dangerous terrain. They are introducing technology to allow machines to tackle skilled operations with minimal driver input. They are working on connecting machine operators and project managers, providing data on jobsite conditions and equipment. Drones are a logical area to pursue. DJI explains their use on the job site:
“The Skycatch Explore1 drone autonomously flies over job sites to create highly accurate 3D site maps and models and will be deployed on Komatsu job sites. This map data will be used for Komatsu Smart Construction’s new data service that enables robotic earth moving equipment, used in the earthwork stage of the construction process, to correctly dig, bulldoze, and grade land autonomously according to digital construction plans.”
“Conducting a site survey using a drone used to take hours. However, by implementing Explore1, users can carry out surveying quickly and easily. Now it is possible to perform drone surveying every day. Taking off, landing and flight route setting are all automated. Ground Control Points (GCPs) are no longer needed. 3D data is immediately generated and an entire construction site can be visually checked with the 3D map. The Explore1 is a true game changer for the construction site,” said Chikashi Shike, Executive Office of Smart Construction Division at Komatsu.