Komatsu selected for autonomous lunar construction project

Artist rendering of Komatsu excavator on the moon for Komatsu's autonomy project.

Komatsu will be participating in a project for promoting the development of innovative technologies for autonomous construction for various places and climates, including on the moon.

The project is lead-managed by Japan’s Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism (MLIT) with collaboration by Japan’s Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology.

Also, the project was decided by the MLIT in July this year as part of its Strategic Program for Accelerating Research, Development and Utilization of Space Technology (Stardust Program). Komatsu’s proposal of the Development of Digital Twin Technology for Lunar Construction Equipment has been selected as an eligible target of Technology related to Autonomous Construction (Automation and Remote Control).

Under the leadership of the Council of Promoting the Development of Innovative Technologies for Autonomous Construction, an inter-ministry collaboration body, all selected companies and organizations will diligently conduct research and development of their individual  technologies.

In this way, in the near future Komatsu will contribute to Japan’s achievement of advanced construction and research and development of outer space construction activities, such as on the moon. future.

In the ongoing three-year, mid-term management plan, to be completed in the fiscal year ending March 31, 2022, Komatsu is working to achieve safe, highly productive, smart, and clean workplaces of the future by advancing products (automation and autonomy of machines) and processes (optimization of construction operations). Concerning the selected Development of Digital Twin Technology for Lunar Construction Equipment, Komatsu will utilize accumulated technologies in both products and processes.

Because it’s complicated to approach actual objects on the moon’s surface, Komatsu believes that digital twin technology is essential, precisely recreating site conditions and machines. To develop this technology, Komatsu will conduct a feasibility study to verify the possibility of developing high-precision digital twin technology, the basic technology of lunar construction equipment.

Specifically, Komatsu will create and operate a hydraulic excavator in cyberspace and compare its movements with actual equipment on Earth to verify the simulator’s precision. Komatsu will also set the surface conditions of the moon as cyberspace, and check the movements of the excavator in the simulator in order to identify the issues facing our lunar equipment.