The GPU, originally created for the PC gaming market by NVIDIA, will help bring Artificial Intelligence (AI) to heavy equipment.
Jensen Huang, CEO of NVIDIA Corporation, announced a partnership with Komatsu to improve safety and productivity at construction jobsites during his keynote speech at GTC Japan, one of the company’s seven annual tech conferences.
“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.”
Komatsu plans to introduce NVIDIA GPUs (Graphic Processing Unit) to its Smartconstruction jobsites. The GPUs will communicate with drones from Skycatch (a Komatsu partner) which will collect 3D images, generate terrain data and visualize site conditions. Working with NVIDIA, OPTiM Corp. (another Komatsu partner and IoT-management software company) will provide an application to correlate terrain data to jobsite workers and construction machines for visualization.
“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.”
Komatsu created the Smartconstruction business in 2015 as a response to Japan’s shrinking skilled workforce. Smartconstruction connects information related to jobsite workers and objects, such as construction machines and earth. Since its launch, Komatsu has deployed Smartconstruction at more than 4,000 jobsites in Japan. The company plans to introduce the business around the world in the future.
The NVIDIA Jetson AI platform will serve as the brain of heavy machinery deployed on jobsites. When Jetson, which works with NVIDIA’s cloud technology, is installed in construction machines, it will be able to provide 360-degree images, enabling prompt recognition of workers and other machines nearby, thereby preventing dangerous contacts and collisions.
As well, Jetson, a credit-card sized platform that delivers AI computing at the edge, will be used with the stereo cameras installed in the cabs of construction equipment, and will recognize continuously changing jobsite conditions on a real-time basis. This will aim to provide accurate instructions to machine operators. Future plans call for use not only for automatic control of devices, but also for high-resolution rendering and virtual simulation of construction and quarry jobsite operations.
By utilizing NVIDIA’s technologies and expertise in imaging processing, virtual simulation and AI, Komatsu will further promote the Smartconstruction business and accelerate the pace of achieving its “construction jobsites of the future.”