A Japanese construction equipment maker is proposing a solution to the labor shortage the country has in common with the U.S.: Replace crews with robots.
A plan by Komatsu, whose drones are made by San Francisco company Skycatch, suggests that unmanned drones can take videos and photographs of a job site, and then send them to a computer that would replicate the site in a 3-D model. Using the model, driverless bulldozers and excavators could dig holes and move earth to get the foundation of a building started.
Human programmers would set the routes for the drones and excavators and activate them, but the devices would take it from there.
A Komatsu spokesman told The Wall Street Journal that labor shortages are critical in Japan as construction ramps up for the 2020 Summer Olympics in Tokyo. The company experimented with ground-level scanners, he said, but found that the airborne drones work better.