Komatsu’s Brisbane ‘Hackathon’ proves a success for startups

L-R: Ryoichi Togashi, Koichi Kawamura, Brad Neilson, PETRA's Dr Penny Stewart and Arun Pillai Prakash, Atsunori Kikuchi. Image: Unearthed

Komatsu’s three-day, Queensland-based ‘hackathon’, Komatsu: Transform Mining, took place at River City Labs in Brisbane from February 23–25, with tech startup PETRA Data Science taking the event’s top award.

The company took first place in the competition for its ShovelVision AI prototype. Brisbane was chosen by Komatsu for the event due to its reputation as a city for mining technology investment.

The event offered entrepreneurs and startups the chance to engage in technology showcases with a mining focus, working with Komatsu mentors to offer insight into the implementation and integration of new technologies within the company and industry at large; Komatsu’s general manager, Ryoichi Togashi, said that crisis was a driving force of innovation.

Komatsu: Transform Mining has been a very exciting experience and I was blown away by the calibre of solutions that were presented on Sunday night,” said Togashi. “We have already commenced discussions with multiple startups as to how we can collaborate to deliver these disruptive technologies.”

Known for its FORESTALL predictive maintenance solution— utilised by Newcrest — as well as PRODFINDER and LABYRINTH projects, PETRA Data Science received a $5000 innovation voucher, an expenses-paid trip to a global Komatsu site to implement their algorithms, and a further $3000 in Amazon Web Services (AWS) credits (Amazon Web Services being one of the supporters of the hackathon).

“We are very excited to have won and have already received 100 photographs of bucket teeth to test our algorithms on,” said PERTA Data Science managing director and founder Dr Penny Stewart, in reference to a challenge issued by Komatsu related to the wear of bucket teeth. “We can’t wait to engage with Komatsu further on our site visit.”

In second place was Team Ad Hoc, who developed a low-tech smoke alert system, and Chilean company InDiMin took third place with its digital personal trainer for operators, Smart Mining Coach.

The event was organised in association with innovation hub Unearthed Solutions; Unearthed industry lead Dom Hardy referred to the event as the first of its kind.

“Komatsu are committed to being the first big customer and validating the technology of as many relevant startups, as quickly as possible,” he said.

To keep up to date with Australian Mining, subscribe to our free email newsletters delivered straight to your inbox. Click here.