And finally… Kajima to develop automated construction equipment to build on the moon

Japanese contractor Kajima plans to team up with the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (Jaxa) to develop automated construction machinery to work on construction projects on Mars and the moon.

Nikkei Asian Review reports that the project will be an extension of Kajima’s A4CSEL system, an abbreviation that stands for Automated Autonomous Advanced Accelerated Construction System for Safety, Efficiency, and Liability. This allows operators to control machinery from a remote location using tablet computers, as well as GPS and accelerometer chips.

The system was used last year to build dams in Fukuoka and Oita prefectures in southern Japan. According to Kajima, networked bulldozers carried out “simple and repetitive” construction operations with “high precision”.

The company comments on its website that automated construction in large civil engineering schemes can compensate for the shortage of skilled workers and increase productivity. In an extraterrestrial setting, the concept could prepare the site for a building or launch pad and carry dirt.

Kajima intends to develop its A4CSEL software so that the machines can communicate with each other to avoid repeating work or colliding with each other. This is necessary because the delay in sending signals from Earth would make them difficult to control in real time.

In January, Jaxa selected Kajima’s idea to develop machinery for construction in space for its Space Exploration Innovation Hub project, a three-way programme among businesses, the government and academia. An indoor experiment will be held sometime after April next year at Jaxa’s Sagamihara Campus in Kanagawa Prefecture, south of Tokyo.

Kajima and Jaxa are aiming to have software and hardware ready to be used in the next 15 to 25 years.

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