Who Does The Work During A Labor Shortage

Neophobes always whine about automation taking jobs but what happens when there’s nobody around willing to do a job? That’s what Komatsu was asked when it became clear that there wasn’t enough laborers in Japan willing to fulfill the demands of building the 2020 Olympics facilities. Its answer? Automation, of course:

As Japan ramps up new construction in preparation for hosting the 2020 Olympics, experts believe it will face a serious obstacle. “The labor shortage in the construction industry could reach a crisis level in the next few years,” Martin Schulz, an economist at Fujitsu Research Institute in Tokyo, told Bloomberg.

To get around this problem, Komatsu has begun creating a new service it calls Smart Construction. A team of robotic vehicles scoops rock and pushes dirt without a human behind the wheel. They are guided in their work by a fleet of drones, which map the area in three dimensions and update the data in real time to track how the massive volumes of soil and cement are moving around the site.

There’s no reason why you need humans to operate earthmoving equipment. You can just as easily have the equipment operated remotely or autonomously. Komatsu’s solution appears to rely on autonomous earthmoving equipment that is guided by information provided by ariel unmanned craft. The unmanned ariel craft, which is operated by a human, scans the area and tells the earthmoving equipment what it needs to do to change the undesirable landscape into something desirable.

In addition to alleviating the labor shortage this solution is also much safer since no humans have to be directly involved in potentially dangerous work. I can’t help but reiterate that this future we live in is awesome.