Komatsu Ltd. (President and CEO: Hiroyuki Ogawa) and its subsidiary EARTHBRAIN Ltd. (President and CEO: Akinori Onodera) have jointly developed a remote control system for construction equipment and begun offering it to customers since March 2023. The system will be introduced to the market in phases after on-site verification for commercial production is completed in the first half of FY2023. Komatsu and EARTHBRAIN are going to help customers improve the safety and productivity of their workplaces.
The need for remote control of construction equipment is increasing year by year as the labor shortage and aging of operators at construction sites in Japan become more serious. To achieve safe, highly productive, smart and clean workplaces of the future, Komatsu has been developing remote control systems over the years. In 2020 Komatsu was the first company in Japan that successfully conducted a verification test of remote control of construction and mining equipment using 5G.
To ensure steady commercial production from the previously verification concept, Komatsu developed the system based on its radio-controlled vehicles, which have a proven track record, such as in the restoration work of Mount Unzen Fugendake in the 1990s. By combining newly developed software and controller that convert remote control signals for radio-controlled operation and transmit them, we aim to commercialize this system as a remote control system of high quality and reliability.
The remote control cockpit developed by EARTHBRAIN enables remote control with a sense of presence, just as in the actual driver's seat, while checking the front, back, left, right, and work equipment through high-definition video sent from the construction equipment. The transmission and reception of the on-site images and control signals necessary for remote control are sent via 5G mobile network, which features high speed, large capacity, and low latency, in cooperation with NTT Communications Corporation. 5G and cloud-based service ("docomo MEC™ "※1 , "MEC direct™ "※2 ) are used to connect construction sites and remote control bases.
With the cooperation of OONO DEVELOPMENT CO., LTD. (Chairman: Teruaki Oono, Headquarters: Matsuyama City, Ehime Prefecture), which has already introduced this system, we are conducting final verification of technologies and safety for mass production and plan to flexibly respond to the different remote control needs of each customer and each site.
This system can also be linked with Smart Construction Fleet and Smart Construction Retrofit, and when linked with these services, we can expect to maximize work efficiency in loading dump trucks and further improve safety in construction equipment operation.
Komatsu and EARTHBRAIN will work to create new value at future workplaces, as we improve the functions of the system for on-site use and further upgrade the system toward the commercial production by the end of this fiscal year.
1 "docomo MEC" is DOCOMO's cloud service with features of MEC (Multi-access Edge Computing) required in the 5G era, such as low latency and high security.
2 "MEC direct" is a service that achieves low-latency and high-security communications through 5G by optimizing communication route by directly connecting terminals and cloud infrastructure provided by DOCOMO.
* "docomo MEC" and "MEC direct" are trademarks of NTT DOCOMO, INC.
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*The information may be subject to change without notice.