The construction industry isn’t known for rapid adoption of cutting edge technologies. The benefits of drones and AI to the industry may change that, however. Computing giant NVIDIA has announced a partnership with Japanese company Komatsu, one of the world’s largest manufacturers of construction and mining equipment, to bring AI to construction worksites.
“We’re seeing adoption of AI by some of the worlds biggest and most innovative companies… NVIDA is at the center,” said Jesse Clayton, NVIDIA’s Sr. Manager of Product and Business Development, Intelligent Machines.
“The next big industry that is going to benefit from AI is construction and mining,” says Clayton. “There are lots of opportunities for improvement.”
Komatsu will focus on improving worksite safety and efficiency. They’ll use NVIDIA GPUs to “visualize and analyze entire construction sites,” says the NVIDIA press release. Drones will provide aerial views of the site and will be able to provide data that improves efficiency.
“Drones can go places that people and other types of machines can’t go – particularly they can be overhead,” says Clayton. “You get scans of the site (3D) – and use AI to remove equipment and other miscellaneous data from the scan. You can also monitor utilization of the equipment: using UAVs to fly above the site, combined with AI.” Clayton says that the technology can provide worksite managers with insights like how often expensive equipment is in motion vs. stationary, and how many human resources are deployed around the equipment.
In addition, the NVIDIA JetsonTM AI platform “will serve as the brain of heavy machinery deployed on these sites, enabling improved safety and productivity.” The same technology that is used in cars to prevent accidents and collisions can ensure greater safety with construction equipment.
“Artificial intelligence is sweeping across industries, and its next frontier is autonomous intelligent machines,” NVIDIA’s founder and CEO Jensen Huang said, speaking at NVIDIA’s final of seven global GPU Technology Conferences this year. “Future machines will perceive their surroundings and be continuously alert, helping operators work more efficiently and safely. The construction and mining industries will benefit greatly from these advances.”
Construction Industry Primed for AI’s Benefits
The needs of the industry, and the high return that drones and AI provide are driving construction companies to adopt new technology. “Safety risks and inefficiencies in the construction industry make it particularly well suited for improvements powered by AI,” says NVIDIA.
“Construction sites are generally considered among the more dangerous workplaces because of the presence of heavy equipment, uneven terrain and continuous activity. Last year, sites in Japan alone recorded some 300 deaths and more than 15,000 injuries, according to the Japan Construction Occupational Safety and Health Association.”
“…To help address these issues, Komatsu began in 2015 rolling out its “SMARTCONSTRUCTION” initiative, connecting data related to onsite workers and objects to make worksites safer and more productive,” NVIDIA says.
“We’ll start integrating NVIDIA GPUs into our construction sites,” said Yuichi Iwamoto, senior executive officer, chief technology officer at Komatsu. “By leveraging NVIDIA’s experience in image processing, virtualization and AI, we can further transform construction areas into jobsites of the future.”
Miriam McNabb is the Editor-in-Chief of DRONELIFE and CEO of JobForDrones, a professional drone services marketplace, and a fascinated observer of the emerging drone industry and the regulatory environment for drones. Miriam has a degree from the University of Chicago and over 20 years of experience in high tech sales and marketing for new technologies.