Komatsu drone pilots now CASA certified

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  • Earthmovers & Exacavators

Six Komatsu Australia in-house pilots were recently certified as drone operators, allowing the company to provide site survey services.

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Komatsu national technology solution manager Aaron Marsh says obtaining the commercial remote pilot licences was crucial for the company as it dovetails into Komatsu’s SmartConstruction business model.

"The main advantage of aerial surveying using unmanned aerial vehicles is that it is fast and accurate and creates efficiencies in subsequent construction stages such as earthmoving," Marsh says. 

"For example, the 3D drone data can be fed into our Komconnect application to automatically calculate the area and volume of earth to be moved and our customers can access it in real-time. 

"Likewise, our factory-integrated Intelligent Machine Control machines operating on the ground can update the as-built ground conditions as they go for accurate cut-and-fill volume reporting. The drone-captured data can also be used for stockpile calculations and ongoing review of construction progress and site logistics," Marsh adds.

"All round, it makes for a much more streamlined and therefore more economical process. What used to take days and weeks can now be completed with negligible manual effort."

The group was certified by Newcastle-based drone training group Aviassist. The pilots undertook a week-long intensive unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) course certified by the Civil Aviation Safety Authority (CASA).

"Aviassist were kind and helpful enough to help us work under their operators' licence until we received our accreditation and have been great with ongoing advice for our company and our chief pilot if we need any guidance or assistance," Marsh says.

"Now we are fully qualified and ready to fly directly for our customers entirely as Komatsu, under our own business model which includes our own insurances."

Komatsu uses high-accuracy Skycatch survey quadcopter drones that can create 3D point clouds that are accurate to within 5cm. Marsh adds that although he recommends using Komatsu pilots to operate the drones, there are other alternatives for customers to fly the UAVs themselves.


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