A high-tech equipment inspection system has taken top prize at Komatsu’s three-day mining ‘hackathon’.

The Japanese industrial technology giant held the event at River City Labs in Brisbane, with IT startup PETRA Data Science taking the event’s main award.

Fourteen startups comprised of over fifty innovators pitched their existing technologies to Komatsu, and then over the next two days, worked with Komatsu mentors and personnel, who offered insights into the company’s current operations, technology gaps, implementation, integration, and vision.

On closing night, participating startups showcased how their technology applies to one (or in one case two) of Komatsu’s four major mining challenges and pitched their engagement model prototype to a judging panel.

PETRA Data Science took first place for with its ‘ShovelVision AI’ prototype, which was developed in response to ore characterisation and Ground Engaging Tools (GET) challenges.

The system is designed to find damage and flaws in the digging buckets of heavy machinery.

“We are very excited to have won and have already received 100 photographs of bucket teeth to test our algorithms on. We can’t wait to engage with Komatsu further on our site visit. It only takes us 6-8 weeks to develop an algorithm, so we think that this agility will prove attractive and valuable to Komatsu,” said PETRA founder Dr Penny Stewart.

Second place went to Team Ad Hoc (members of predictive biometric monitoring startup Canaria and friends), for their innovative low tech smoke alert system.

Third place went to Chilean startup InDiMin who pitched Smart Mining Coach – a digital personal trainer for operators to increase behavioural productivity.

The company said it was very beneficial to get ideas from outside the industry.

“Through hackathons with outside members who are familiar with mining sites, customers and advanced technologies, Komatsu can access results that cannot be achieved by in-house development,” Komatsu General Manager Ryoichi Togashi said.

The event was run by Unearthed Solutions.