According to The Nikkei Asia, one of Japan's biggest civil engineering groups has developed a navigation system for construction vehicles that does not rely on GPS or other satellite positioning data, allowing them to guide themselves in remote places.
Tokyo-based Taisei's technology, which uses laser sensors to make three-dimensional maps of a vehicle's surroundings, is thought to be the first of its kind developed in Japan. Its industry peers at home have made their own forays into autonomous-driving technology, but they rely on signals in the sky to guide their vehicles.
Taisei now looks to adapt the system to real-world projects in tunnels and other areas where GPS signals are difficult or impossible to reach, helping cope with a construction labor shortages by automating more machinery.
The 3D-map locates obstacles in the vehicle's way and allows it to chart detours around them. The technology was recently tried on a tracked dump truck, which drove 5 kph through a tunnel. Once the sensor-equipped vehicle travels through such a simple environment once with an operator on board, it is able to collect enough take to drive itself on later trips.
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