Skycatch and Kkomatsu - Smart Construction Program
Japanese construction company Komatsu has teamed up with drone expert Skycatch, to develop a construction platform using remote operators, autonomous vehicles, and drones to complete building projects. ‘Smart construction’ uses Skycatch’s drones to scan job sites, capturing imagery and then automatically generating highly accurate 3D site data from this imagery. This data is then compared with 3D drawings of the site to automatically calculate the area and volume of earth to be moved. The results can then be transmitted as instructions to ‘smart construction’ machinery for fully autonomous work on the site.
Future implementations of this technology include overlaying civil engineering plans onto drone captured 3D models, directly feeding data into the autonomous equipment, and using sensors to collect specific site changes as the machinery is digging and moving.
“By having Skycatch UAVs provide the 3D data on job sites, they can estimate the work amount and cost efficiently”, describes CTO of Komatsu, Fujitoshi Takamura. “Once we have efficiently planned the work amount, they can use the automated Komatsu machines. Smart construction can successfully plan the efficient system from the beginning to the end so the clients can save significant amounts of workload, time and costs.”
Kokkugia Drones Swarm Printing
Research by Kokkugia proposes a different and more unique construction process created by a swarm of 3D Printing UAV drones. The plan harnesses drone technology in order to propose a construction process that can be pre-designed yet allow for flexibility in order to be implementable within a variety of environments through real-time structural feedback.
Through this technology, the construction of networked, lightweight cantilever and bridging structures in hard to access locations is made possible. Such structures arise from the 3D Printing sequences of the swarming UAVs and their responses to real-time structural analysis. This construction process alleviates the need for scaffolding in what is often a complex and awkward site-specific location whilst producing designs that are structurally and materially efficient. An adaptive construction system is able to respond to real-time contingencies such as wind and bad weather and respond through design variations decided in real-time if necessary.
The team of students prototyped the system by digitally constructing a bridge between two cliff faces. The drone printing sequence was systematic, utilizing feedback information to inform the production of spatial structures that change in structural typology throughout the assembly sequence.