Komatsu taps Nvidia for AI partnership

Job site safety and efficiency will be the focus of a new artificial intelligence (AI) partnership between equipment maker Komatsu and US-based tech firm Nvidia.

The pairing was announced at the recent GTC Japan event by Nvidia founder and CEO Jensen Huang.

Specifically, Komatsu will use the computing group’s graphics processing units (GPUs) to analyse and show a visualisation of sites, with Nvidia’s Jetson AI platform – at a size similar to that of a credit card – serving as the machines’ ‘brains’ as they are deployed and put to work.

Working in tandem with Nvidia cloud technology, Jetson will power cameras mounted on Komatsu’s equipment to gain 360° views for identifying nearby people and machines to prevent collisions and accidents.

Jetson will also be used in cab-mounted stereo cameras to help assess conditions real time. Future applications include high-resolution rendering and virtual site simulations and machinery automation.

“Artificial intelligence is sweeping across industries, and its next frontier is autonomous intelligent machines,” Huang said.

“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.”

The AI will be complementing Komatsu’s Smartconstruction initiative, which it first rolled out in 2015 to connect data and objects at sites for safer and more productive work. Smartconstruction will be implemented internationally.

“We’ll start integrating  Nvidia GPUs into our construction sites,” Komatsu senior executive officer, chief technology officer Yuichi Iwamoto said.

“By leveraging Nvidia’s experience in image processing, virtualisation and AI, we can further transform construction areas into job sites of the future.”

Nvidia noted that construction safety risks and inefficiencies make the work particularly well suited for improvements using AI technology.

“Construction sites are generally considered among the more dangerous workplaces because of the presence of heavy equipment, uneven terrain and continuous activity,” it said, adding that Japan alone recorded some 300 deaths and more than 15,000 injuries last year.



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