- Drone manufacturer DJI is selling 1,000 custom Matrice 100 drones with Skycatch imaging technology to Komatsu. DJI claims this is the "largest commercial drone order in history," reported Engadget.
- Although the total contract value was not released, off-the-shelf Matrice 100 drones cost approximately $3,200, with an additional $1,000 tacked on for the GPS module. Skycatch's High Precision Package, which creates surveying maps and point clouds, adds another $1,800 per month to the tally.
- DJI said the map data will be used for Komatsu Smart Construction's new data service, which will allow for robotic earth-moving equipment to correctly dig, bulldoze and grade land autonomously, reported DroneLife.
Drones are taking off in construction as the industry continues to embrace smart jobsite technologies and the myriad benefits they employ. Komatsu, in particular, is immersing itself in technology. In December it joined forces with tech giant NVIDIA to add drones and artificial intelligence to the jobsite, using drones to collect and analyze data that could streamline operations while increasing worker safety.
Earlier this month, Samsung patented a drone that operators can control with their eyes via a display device comparable to a smartphone screen and a main control unit. The integrated display monitors a person’s face, pupils, hand gestures and position, then transmits that data to a control unit where it commands the drone's movement.
Popular though drones are, such as for bridge inspections and the relatively new ability to attach thermal sensors to the devises for thermal imaging, they are just one component of increasingly smart and connected jobsites.
Not only are the apps on a phone important to a jobsite, but the phones themselves are becoming tools. Bullitt Group and Cat recently introduced the Cat S61 smartphone, which includes a FLIR thermal camera that can read temperatures up to 400 C, a laser-assisted distance meter that can measure up to 10 meters and an air quality analyzer that will take a reading every 30 seconds.
Various sensors also are helping with jobsite communications and safety. Triax Technology, for example, released what it claims is the first real-time construction-specific alert system for evacuations. The Spot-r EvacTag integrates with Triax’s proprietary network and a wearable clip that emits a high-decibel siren and visible LED alert should an evacuation become necessary.
Triax’s EquipTag, another Internet of Things-enabled device, transmits real-time data about worker and equipment activity, location and safety to Autodesk's BIM 360. This allows offsite managers to observe movement in the program's 2-D drawings and 3-D models.